What Can We Learn From the Top 30 Brands on Facebook? (Report)

It’s important to pay close attention to the tactics employed by industry leaders; they provide general insights for your strategy. Within social media marketing, the industry leaders to pay attention to are the big brands that are attracting massive fan bases. A report from social media analytics and bookmarking platform Quintly examined the 30 biggest brands on Facebook for a look at current trends.

Industry leaders like Discovery, Amazon, Mercedes-Benz, YouTube and Coca-Cola experienced a significant growth in fans during the first six months of 2016. On average, these Facebook pages grew by 450,000 new fans and show no signs of slowing. It doesn’t seem that social media has yet hit a saturation point for brands, and Facebook continues to grow.

On average, brand pages are posting fewer updates, but according to Quintly, this hides the true nature of top brand posting. For example, Disney posts an average of 4.32 times per day, while PlayStation posts 2.62 times per day. MTV, which was excluded from graphics in the report, averaged more than 67 posts per day. The trend of posting less frequently may be reflective of a quality over quantity approach that hopes for deeper engagement, rather than broader interaction.

Daily+Posts

Video has become a core aspect of brand presence, which allows for lengthier interaction with fans, as compared to image posts. Quintly found 54.9 percent of all Facebook posts surveyed from the top 30 brands were video posts. Videos allow brands to tell longer stories, and with the relentless appetite for video, users are engaging heavily.

This engagement leads to much more conversation from users on company Facebook pages. Quintly found pages received an average of 1,000-2,400 posts and 224-426 questions from users each month. This increased interaction has put a strain on pages and response times, which are already a chronic problem.

Regardless of the size of your business, or Facebook page, it’s important to treat fans’ time with respect. Serve them video content that engages, deliver a smaller number of more meaningful posts and respond to their concerns and questions in a timely manner.

Download Quintly’s report here for more insights.

Top image courtesy of Hadrian / Shutterstock.com.

Facebook Updates Branded Content Policy to Include Verified Profiles

Users with verified Facebook profiles can now share branded content on Facebook, as Facebook announced it updated its Branded Content Policy to include verified profiles.

Facebook previously announced changes to its Branded Content Policy in April 2016, which allowed verified Facebook pages to bring their sponsorships onto Facebook by posting branded content and tagging the associated marketers in their posts.

With this update, users with verified profiles, such as athletes, musicians, comedians and others, will also be able to post branded content and tag the associated marketers in their posts.

In a Facebook Media blog post, Facebook explained what it defines as branded content:

On Facebook, we define branded content as any post—including text, photos, videos, Instant Articles, links, 360 videos and Live videos—that features a third party product, brand, or sponsor.

When a verified Facebook page or profile tags a marketer in a branded content post, the marketer will receive a notification, and they will have access to “post-level insights.” Marketers will also be able to share and boost the posts they’re tagged in.

Readers: What do you think about this update to Facebook’s Branded Content Policy?

The Why, How and When of Using Quotations on Your Blog

The Why, How and When of Using Quotations on Your Blog | ProBy ProBlogger Expert Ali Luke of Aliventures.

Do you ever use quotations on your blog – words from other bloggers, writers, or experts in your industry?

Many bloggers rarely or never do … and they’re missing a huge opportunity.

If you’ve never even thought about using quotes, or if you’re worried about getting it wrong, this post is for you. Before we dig in too far, though, let’s take a look at four key reasons why quotes are so useful.

Why You Should Use (More) Quotes on Your Blog

#1: You’ll Stand Out from Other Bloggers by Including Different Views

Most bloggers don’t use quotes. Their writing can become a bit of an echo-chamber: they’re constantly giving their own viewpoint, but without situating it within a broader conversation.

By using quotations, you can either bolster your own arguments (“Professor Jones agrees, writing…”) or you can stand against a statement that you strongly disagree with (“I see this very different from Joe Blogger, who says…”)

#2: Your Blog May be Seen as Higher Quality

Reports and articles in newspapers and magazines tend to make frequent use of quotes: understandably enough, as most writers are not themselves experts on the areas they’re writing about.

As a blogger, you do have experience and expertise in your field – but you can make your blog look even more professional by taking the more journalistic approach of including quotes.

#3: You’ll Find Yourself Doing More Research

It’s easy to end up dashing off blog posts in a rush – but for really quality posts, you’ll usually need to do at least a bit of research. By making a point of incorporating quotes, you pretty much force yourself to check out some different sources!

As a result, your blog posts should be stronger, more authoritative – and more likely to convert passing traffic into loyal readers.

#4: You’ll Get Noticed by the People You Quote

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to every quote (Aristotle is unlikely to show up to thank you for quoting him in your latest post…) but if you’re quoting an author or blogger, they’re likely to be both flattered and grateful.

Even small blogs can pass useful link juice by linking to the post or book they’re quoting, and while huge bloggers may not always notice or acknowledge that they’ve been quoted, the “little guys” of the blogosphere may respond incredibly enthusiastically.

Hopefully you’re now sold on the “why”. Here’s where to go next:

How to Use Quotes Effectively – and Legally

Just in case you’re not sure, there are a few straightforward rules about using quotes correctly. These exist to make sure that it’s clear to readers which words are your own, and which are ones you’re quoting.

Generally, by making sure you attribute quotes clearly and correctly, you also ensure those quotes work well within your post.

Here’s what to do:

Step #1: Select the sentence or section that you’re quoting carefully.

Normally, you shouldn’t be quoting the whole (or anything close to the whole) of anything. For instance, you shouldn’t reproduce a whole poem or a whole blog post – even if it was a very short one.

Excerpts, however, are usually fine. Many countries have a “fair use” policy covering these.

If you do want to quote a whole piece, or if you’re unsure about whether it’s OK to quote something, then just drop the author an email to ask permission.

Step #2: Always put quotes in quotation marks (“ … “) or in blockquote style (<blockquote> … </blockquote>).

If you’re quoting a phrase or sentence, you can normally just put it into quotation marks within the paragraph you’re writing – like dialogue in a novel. Quotations of more than a single sentence should generally go in blockquote formatting, in their own paragraph.

Here’s an example:

We tend to share a blog post only once on social media because we don’t want to ‘bombard’ our followers. The problem with this is, if you get the timing wrong it will quickly fade into oblivion and no one will see it.

The One Reason Your Amazing Blog Post Hasn’t Gone Viral (and 8 Things You Can Do About It), Kelly Exeter, ProBlogger

Step #3: Always give a name, and where possible, a source and hyperlink for the quote.

For instance, if you’re quoting a blog post, you might give the blogger’s name, the title of the post, a link to the post, and the name of the blog. Here’s how I do it:

The One Reason Your Amazing Blog Post Hasn’t Gone Viral (and 8 Things You Can Do About It), Kelly Exeter, ProBlogger

You could also follow different formats (though try to be consistent across your posts). For instance, you might want to put the blogger’s name first and leave off the name of the blog the post appeared on:

– Kelly Exeter, The One Reason Your Amazing Blog Post Hasn’t Gone Viral (and 8 Things You Can Do About It)

For a really minimalist approach, perhaps if you’re using the quote within a sentence, you could do this:

Kelly Exeter

Linking to the source won’t always be possible or appropriate (e.g. if someone has supplied a quote in a private interview with you). The more information you can give, though, the more helpful your citation will be for your readers … and, as mentioned above, it’s a great way to get on someone’s radar.

Step #4: If you haven’t used a quote exactly as it was written (or spoken), make that clear.

The convention for this is to putting changed or added words in [square brackets]. You can also use an ellipsis (…) or an ellipsis in square brackets ([…]) to indicate where you’ve made cuts.

Here’s an example, where I’ve modified Kelly’s quote to shorten it – this might be appropriate if you’re using a lot of quotes and need to keep the length down, or if a quote is particularly wordy:

[Bloggers] tend to share a blog post only once […] because we don’t want to ‘bombard’ our followers. The problem with this is, if you get the timing wrong […] no one will see it.

The One Reason Your Amazing Blog Post Hasn’t Gone Viral (and 8 Things You Can Do About It), Kelly Exeter, ProBlogger

When and Where to Use Quotes

There are plenty of different ways to use quotes on your blog: here are some ideas to get you started.

Putting Together a List of Inspiring or Helpful Quotations

This is a fantastic technique if you’re a fairly new blogger, or if you’re an established blogger struggling for inspiration!

Draw together a list of 10 – 20 great quotes that relate to your blog’s topic. Try to keep your post focused by either going for a particular tone (e.g. inspiring quotes, funny quotes) or by looking for quotes that are fairly specific (e.g. if you write about parenting, you could have “20 quotes about raising toddlers”).

Sometimes, lists of quotes can end up doing extremely well on social media. Charlie Gilkey, from Productive Flourishing, wrote How to Flourish: 17 Quotes on Living, Being and Doing fairly early on in the life of his blog (in 2009). Seven years on, it still brings a lot of traffic to his blog. He told me, via email:

“How to Flourish” was truly a surprise hit and still consistently ranks in the top 10 posts for traffic due to its popularity on StumbleUpon. It was a surprise hit because a) I didn’t post it out of any sense of strategy, b) I had no idea that a quote post would be so popular, and c) the only reason it exists is because I didn’t have time to write an original post. After its success, I wrote a few other quote posts and started using quotes more frequently in my original posts and in social media.

Rounding Up Expert Responses on a Particular Topic

You can put together a great post by asking experts for a quick quote on a specific topic – sometimes this is called a “one question interview”. It can take a fair amount of time and organisation to pull together, but it can make for a great post – with, hopefully, lots of experts who are willing to share it.

To create something more quickly (and to potentially give even more value to the experts being quoted), you could take quotes from their existing posts or published material – then link to those.

Quick caveat: I’ve seen quite a lot of new bloggers doing expert roundups in recent years, so take a look at what’s already out there and see how you can put your own spin on it.

Using Quotations as Part of the Standard Structure of Your Posts

Alex Blackwell, from The Bridgemaker, always starts off his posts with a quotation – he’s been doing this for years, since the start of the blog. I asked him about this, and he explained:

Using a quote before each blog post helps me to establish the tone and theme of the post, which is intended to encourage someone to read one. Often after I get an idea for a post, I look for the quote first. This practice helps me to solidify exactly what I’m trying to say before I begin writing the post.

Barry Demp, the business coach behind The Quotable Coach, has based his whole blog around quotations. His short daily emails (Mon – Fri) all start with a quote and follow a consistent structure. After going out by email, they are then archived on his blog.

Barry told me that he now has over 1,850 email subscribers plus 7,500 monthly visitors to the blog. He added:

Over the past six years, The Quotable Coach blog has significantly expanded its reach and has enhanced the credibility of the Barry Demp Coaching brand. The brief easy-to-read daily format (which includes a photograph, a coaching commentary and an exercise) supports readers in applying the nugget of wisdom to their lives.

Posting Single Quotations as Individual Posts

This particular technique is used by Michael Hyatt to add regular content without overwhelming readers with lots of text. (He outlined his reasons for this in Why I Will Be Posting Less on My Blog.)

You can see Michael’s complete collection of quotes with images here.

It works well, mainly because Michael has the quotations nicely formatted and presented, with a beautiful image for each one. Simply publishing the text of the quotation as a stand-alone post would probably end up turning readers off – and it certainly wouldn’t be anything like so good for encouraging shares on social media.

Adding Depth to Almost Any Post by Going Beyond Your Own Expertise

Pretty much any blog post can benefit from quotations! In this post, I deliberately sourced quotes from Charlie Gilkey, Alex Blackwell and Barry Demp so that they could explain, in their own words, the benefits that using quotations have brought them – considerably better, I feel, that me making a guess at those benefits!

While you can simply search for quotes at the point which you plan or draft a post, you may also want to keep an eye out for things to quote while you’re reading: you could save these to a folder on your computer, to Evernote, or add them into your task management software. (Or, like I did in the dim and distant past when I was a student working on English Literature essays, you could even write them out by hand…!)

If you’re thinking about integrating more quotes into the standard posts on your blog, consider:

  • How to posts: Quote other experts to give bonus tips or extra help on tricky steps.
  • List posts: Ask fellow bloggers – or even your readers – to supply some ideas for the list.
  • Review posts: Quote other reviews; quote from the product where appropriate (often best to ask permission first).
  • Round-up / link posts: Quote from the blog posts that you’re linking to, either instead of or in addition to a summary.

Your Turn: Use a Quote in Your Next Post

Next time you write a blog post, include at least one quotation. It could be a funny or pithy one to start you off; it could be a statement you’re reacting against … or it might be a quote from a fellow blogger or an expert in your field, to help add extra depth to your post.

Good luck – and do comment below to tell us what you’re planning, or to let us know how you got on.

Ali Luke blogs about the art, craft and business of writing at Aliventures. She has two free ebooks on blogging, Ten Powerful Ways to Make Your Blog Posts Stronger and Ten Easy Ways to Attract Readers to Your Blog … And Keep Them There: to get your copies of those, just sign up for her weekly e-newsletter (also free!) here.

The post The Why, How and When of Using Quotations on Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

How to Find the Conversion Drivers of Your Website with the Funnel Report

There may be a lot of unanswered questions you have about some the big-picture questions with your website. Perhaps you’re asking:

Do demo requests or signups lead to more paying customers?

Does that product video lead to more signups?

Does the self-service onboarding plan lead to more customers?

Does offering a buy one, get one sale increase purchases?

In cases like this, there are options that a visitor can take to reach conversion. But, it’s often difficult for marketers to know which one has a better effect on the funnel.

The Kissmetrics Funnel Report answers these questions. Here’s how.

Finding the Biggest Conversion Drivers on Your Site

The traditional SaaS Funnel looks something like this:

  • Visited site
  • Signed up for a trial
  • Used product
  • Upgraded to paying

But what if a visitor could sign up or schedule a demo before using the product? The only solution to knowing which one converts better would be to create two separate funnels and compare the results. That is, until now.

The Kissmetrics Funnel Report allows you to add and/or statements in a step. So our hypothetical funnel could look like this:

  • Visited site
  • Signed up for a trial or Scheduled demo
  • Used product
  • Upgraded to paying

Here’s how to set that funnel up, and how to view the results:

View the Funnel Results

I’m not going to bore you with the details of setting up a Funnel Report. We’ve covered it before here and here. As long as you have your events and properties set up, creating a Funnel Report is as easy as putting shoes on. Let’s get straight into the results.

We’ll first look at the people that signed up:

saas-signup-funnel-new-report

And scheduled a demo:

saas-demo-requested-new-report

Notice a difference?

Looks like signups drive significantly more product usage and customers (54 compared to 0). If this was your data, you’d know you should remove demo requests from the website so 100% of users go straight to signing up.

What’s Holding Back Your Marketing Site?

How many elements are on your website, seemingly harmless but actually detracting people from signing up or converting? They’re there, but you don’t know how they’re affecting the rest of your funnel.

Using the Or statements (like we did) in the Funnel Report is a great way to find the best performing elements on your site. Best of all, you don’t need to run an A/B test. All this data is already in Kissmetrics, and as long as you’ve been tracking it, you can see the performance.

Happy optimizing!

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.

Create professional marketing material faster than you can carve a pumpkin


Create professional marketing material faster than you can carve a pumpkin

For anyone who needs professional designs without complicated software

A few weeks ago I needed to create a webinar deck for a client (yeah bro, I freelance).

I decided to use a popular online design tool to make things easier.

It didn’t. Slower than dial-up, downloads formatted weirdly, and resolution was horrible.

According to RescueTime, I wasted over 23 hours(!) grinding it out through frustration and tears.

I wish I was kidding.

And then I found DesignBold. It was love at first click.

If you’re creating presentations, webinars, or eBooks, you need a simple way to whip up beautiful designs on the fly.

DesignBold is the cleanest, simplest, and fastest online design tool for non-designers we’ve come across.

Start creating your first stunning designs today!

Lifetime Access to DesignBold

DesignBold eliminates the complexity of most design software.

What’s left is exactly what you need to create professional-quality designs (without wasting hours like I did).

With 4,000+ premium templates and unlimited use of 7,000+ stock photos with extended license, you’re going to LOVE using DesignBold!

You can create from scratch, or use one of DesignBold’s beautiful templates for…

eBooks:

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Basically, whatever designs you need, DesignBold is your one stop shop.

Even Fiona is showing mad love:

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Fun? Relaxing? Sign me up!

What’s included with this DesignBold offer:

  • 4,000+ professional designed templates… so you look like a pro.
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  • Unlimited use of 7,000+ high-res stock photos with extended license.

Lifetime Access to DesignBold

The rest of the world pays $228/yr for access to DesignBold (much cheaper than what a freelancer charges for a small project).

But you’re not a part of the rest of the world, you’re part of Sumo Nation.

Which is why you’re getting LIFETIME ACCESS to DesignBold’s Pro membership for just $39!

That’s like 3 pizzas without toppings and no tip.

(Note: Credits for 20 monthly premium stock photos are not included in this deal – you do however have unlimited access to a growing library of 7,000+ stock photos with extended license – all premium templates’ images are also included.)

Stop waiting and start creating designs that make your business proud.

Create stunning designs today for only $39!

You know that captivating designs are the #1 thing that’ll make you stand out in a crowded online world.

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AppSumo Price: $39
Original Price: $1,140

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Curl Up With Everything Holiday: Take comfort in holiday marketing made easy

Halloween is right around the corner, and the holiday marketing season is already in full swing. But don’t despair — it’s never too late to carve a brilliant jack-o’-lantern out of what may seem like an overwhelming holiday marketing pumpkin.

Find all the tools you need on Everything Holiday, our comprehensive and practical set of tips, guides, fun facts, and festive freebies to help your business shine bright this holiday season.

Each day through October 28, something new is unlocked on Everything Holiday. Here are some of the highlights from last week:

Don’t want to miss a single day? Sign up for daily email reminders to be the first to hear about each day’s holiday helper. While you’re there, enter the Everything Holiday sweepstakes for your chance to win a full year of our Pro email marketing — for FREE.

Shine Bright This Season

24 Days of Email Marketing Tips, Tools, and Festive Freebies

Everything Holiday

© 2016, John Habib. All rights reserved.

The post Curl Up With Everything Holiday: Take comfort in holiday marketing made easy appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

Facebook Introduces Halloween Reactions, Masks in Facebook Live

Facebook revealed two updates that will allow users to celebrate Halloween on its platform.

First, Facebook revealed it is bringing masks to Facebook Live, and the selection of masks will include Halloween options. Specifically, Facebook said masks will roll out “over the next few days” to iOS users in the U.S., the U.K. and New Zealand.

These masks allow users to add overlays to their faces when they’re broadcasting on Facebook Live. For Halloween, the mask options include a skull and an evil queen, as well as two limited edition masks: a pumpkin and a witch. Other masks will also be available.

To activate a mask, a user can tap the magic wand in the upper left corner of the screen once they go live, and then tap the masks icon in the menu at the bottom of the screen. From there, a user can scroll through the available masks, and tap a mask to activate it. To remove a mask, a user can scroll to the left in the masks menu and tap the “no mask sign.”

Facebook said “a selection of masks” will remain available even after Halloween ends. In addition, the company said it will roll out masks to Android users, as well as to users in additional countries, “in the coming months.” Finally, Facebook said masks will also be available to public figures who use Facebook Mentions on iOS.

Elsewhere, Facebook announced it will release a set of limited edition Halloween reactions “to people in a select set of countries,” which will transform the platform’s Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry reactions into Halloween-themed versions. For instance, the normal Like reaction will be turned into a skeleton’s thumb.

To use these reactions, users can hold down the Like button on mobile or hover over the Like button on desktop to see the different options.

[vimeo 189071901 w=800 h=450]

Readers: What do you think about Facebook’s Halloween updates?

All the disappointments from Apple’s MacBook Pro event


Apple announced a refresh of its MacBook Pro line-up yesterday, and aside from one major feature, it was mostly an iterative update. That’s disappointing, given how long it’s been since Apple last overhauled the design and hardware of its flagship laptop. Plus, it was just the previous day that Microsoft stunned the tech industry with its innovative Surface Studio, which represents the company’s forward-thinking approach to computing. In comparison, Apple’s keynote seemed weak and uninspired. The brand that was once known for leading the charge in consumer tech with new product categories and bold moves now looks like an also-ran.…

This story continues at The Next Web

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Sky-High Conversions From Twitter Ads

Will anyone actually click my ad and buy my product?

It’s a terrifying question, but an important one. Turns out that everyone (including you) wants to get more conversions from a Twitter ad campaign.

You spent countless hours writing lead magnets, creating landing pages and sales pages, and then later you set up a Twitter ad campaign to get some traffic.

While running ads is a great way to get some quick exposure, Twitter is a different ad platform. If you don’t understand the way it works, you might be wasting your money as well.

In today’s post I’ll be sharing some killer tips and resources to get sky-high conversions from Twitter.

So, would you like to know how to advertise on Twitter?

How about more advanced approaches to getting more followers, more leads, and more customers for your business?

But let me make it clear…

If there are secrets or special formulas that can magically unlock the power of Twitter advertising out there, I don’t know them.

What I do know is exactly what the experts are doing — day in and day out.

And now, you will too.

But first let’s take a look at why you should invest in Twitter ads.

Why You Should Invest in Paid Twitter Ads

Twitter is a great social media channel for marketers, as it unofficially has 310 million monthly active users. Twitter ads are an incredible way to complement your social media efforts. With Twitter advertising you can reach thousands of targeted customers and followers.

But why do you need to invest in paid twitter ads?

Organic Reach is Declining

Recently, Twitter made changes to their feed. Now, instead of getting all the recent tweets, Twitter only shows the tweets that they think are relevant to you.

Much like what Facebook did with their platform.

And just a few months ago, Twitter launched Engage, which is for celebrities, influencers, and public figures that’ll curate the most popular tweets, mentions and replies.

This clearly shows that the reach of social media is plummeting day by day. Considering this scenario, Twitter paid ads is a way to go.

AdWords and Facebook Ad Costs Are Rising With Each Passing Day

Just last year, Search Engine Land reported a 20-25% increase in Google AdwWords CPCs. More and more brands are investing in the same keywords, which, of course, increase the competition and thus, the cost.

While Facebook ads were pretty cheap when they first started offering it, nowadays due to millions of advertisers, its platform is also becoming expensive.

For instance, Forbes reported a 21% increase in Facebook average ad pricing and the cost per thousand impressions (CPM) increased by an incredible 29% rate.

Considering both these reports, Twitter now looks like the promising ad channel. Facebook still beats Twitter on average cost per ad, but with some optimization and targeting options you can lower Twitter ad costs, even lower than Facebook.

Your Customers Spend a Ridiculous Amount of Time on Twitter

With each passing day, we’re getting more attracted towards social media. While Facebook is a beast with 1.2 billion monthly active users, Twitter’s 310 million monthly active users can’t be neglected.

According to DMR stats, 34% of active Twitter users log into it more than once in a day.

Looking at all these points, you’ll know that Twitter advertising is the way to go if you’re looking to make profits online.

Now let’s learn how to set-up the perfect Twitter ad campaign.

How to Setup the Perfect Twitter Ad Campaign

Twitter has a robust advertising platform. However, it is quite difficult to understand if you’re just starting out.

But don’t worry. Here’s how to setup your first Twitter ad campaign.

Step 1: Choose your primary objective

To advertise on Twitter you’ll need to log into your Twitter Ads account. For that head over to ads.twitter.com and enter your credentials.

Now, you’ll need to choose your primary objective. Whether you want to get more leads, more traffic, or just more followers.

create-new-campaign-twitter

Twitter has 6 types of campaigns to choose from, these are:

  1. Followers
  2. Website clicks or conversions
  3. Tweet engagements
  4. App install or re-engagements
  5. Leads on Twitter
  6. Video views

Choose a relevant campaign type and click on it.

Step 2: Select your targeting options

Once you’ve determined the campaign type, it’s time to set up the rest of the campaign. Name your ad campaign, choose all the relevant options, and select your targeting options.

targeting-options-twitter-ads

Targeting is an extremely important feature for you to reach to your ideal customers. Twitter has 11 targeting options. These are:

  1. Location
  2. Gender
  3. Languages
  4. Devices, Platforms, and Carriers
  5. Keywords
  6. Followers
  7. Interests
  8. Tailored Audience
  9. Behaviors
  10. TV Targeting
  11. Event Targeting

I recommend you choose relevant targeting options so you don’t end up wasting your time and money marketing to the wrong audience.

Step 3: Adjust your bid to make your campaign profitable

This is the place where most people get Twitter wrong.

Twitter sells its advertising via auction. That means the more you’re willing to pay, the more likely your ads will be shown, but if you set the bids too low, you’ll get no impressions.

So Twitter provides an option for that. It’s called automatic bidding.

choose-pricing-automatic-bid

This is how it works: you set a daily maximum budget and set the pricing to automatic bid, and Twitter will make sure your budget is spent very quickly. It might help you in winning auctions, but you don’t want to or have to win every auction.

So, avoid using automatic bid in most of the cases.

In fact, I recommend you to start with $2, then test with the ads, analyze the results and finally scale the campaign.

After doing all the steps, finally launch your campaign.

How to Make Your Campaign Go Viral

You’ve setup your first Twitter campaign. You now understand the platform and know its basics. You also know the way it works.

Now it’s time to optimize your campaign to make it viral. Here’s how:

1. Get High Quality Score to Lower Ad Clicks

First of all, you obviously don’t want to pay higher for ad clicks, when it’s possible to cut them down. Like Facebook and Google, Twitter also has it’s own quality score, which sometimes it refers to as “Quality Adjusted Bids”.

Larry Kim, the founder of Wordstream, actually found that the higher your engagement rate will be, the lower your ad will cost.

Here’s how Twitter determines a quality-adjusted bid:

  1. Resonance: This is a metric to measure your engagement. Basically, the more likes, retweets, and comments you get, the higher your quality score.
  2. Relevance: It checks whether a user is interested in your tweet.
  3. Recency: This metric checks the freshness of the tweet. If your tweet is fresh, then it’s going to get higher priority.

Here’s how to get a high quality adjusted bid:

Keep your tweets fresh
Like I already mentioned, Twitter keeps a check on the freshness of your tweet. That means Twitter is less likely to show your older ads. Here’s an example:

impressions-twitter-ads(Image Source)

This is a snapshot of Larry Kim’s Twitter ad dashboard. Notice how the impressions go down with each passing day.

Twitter wants to show fresh content to its users. So you’ll want to test different variations of each ad and consider replacing them with newer ads, instead of running the same ones for lengthy periods.

Promote your best stuff
The best possible way to get a high quality score and lower your ad costs is by promoting your best stuff i.e., the tweets which organically gained more exposure.

tweet-engagement(Image Source)

This tweet by Larry Kim resulted in 1488 retweets and 1284 favorites.

Larry got these amazing results because his post was truly epic. So, when you write epic content like this:

Your content has 100x better chance of going viral.

Narrow your audience
Relevance is another important metric in Twitter.

occupation-category-twitter-ads

You don’t want to promote your content to the audience that shows little or no interest. Instead want to narrow your audience, target a smaller but precise audience who is interested in your content.

This not only helps get high conversions, but also helps you get higher engagement.

2. How to Find Your Best Content to Promote

Tweet engagement is a pretty important metric when it comes to advertising in Twitter. Not only does Twitter determine the pricing based on the tweet engagement but it also decides the exposure it’s going to get.

High engagement posts is the way to go in this scenario. Here’s how to find high engagement tweets:

  1. Login to Twitter Analytics
  2. Once you’re in there, click the tweets tab and then click export to export all your tweets
  3. export-data-twitter-analytics

  4. Twitter will take a few seconds to process it, depending on your account, then it will send a request to download CSV file
  5. Open the file and sort the “Engagement Rate” tab by descending order
  6. twitter-engagement-csv-spreadsheet

  7. Now, the top tweets you get are the ones that are the most engaging. This is where you should spend your dollars

Once you find your top engagement tweets, head back to Twitter and start the advertising campaign for those top tweets.

3. Use Relevant Keywords to Narrow Down Your Audience

Keyword targeting is an amazing feature in Twitter that lets you to find the people based on the words and phrases they’ve tweeted or searched for on Twitter.

Each keyword has 6 options to match your ideal customer:

keyword-matching-twitter-ads

  1. Broad Match: Broad match searches for all the tweets containing that keyword independent of the order.
  2. Phrase Match: When you select phrase match, Twitter will search all the tweets that contains the keywords in exact order plus there may be other keywords present between those tweets.
  3. Exact Match: It searches for the tweets with exact keywords in the exact order without any word in between.
  4. Negative Match: Negative match will remove all the tweets with that keyword in any order.
  5. Negative Phrase: Negative phrase will remove all the tweets that contain the keywords in the exact order.
  6. Negative Exact: It removes all the tweets with exact keywords in the exact order without any keyword in between.

4. Use Behavior and Demographic Targeting Options to Boost Engagement

Like keyword targeting, Twitter offers behavior and demographic targeting which is a strong metric to find the relevant audience.

You can use behaviors and demographic targeting options to target the people who want to, and can afford to buy your products. Here’s how:

behavior-selection-twitter-ads

You can select their behavior like business type, industry, and sales revenue to find the customers who might be interested in your offering. You can then select their demographic options like their income, education, and employment to find the customers who can afford to buy your products.

5. Create Tailored Audience for Each Buying Stage

Twitter also offers website tags, which is similar to the Facebook pixel. With this tag you can track different types of conversions for the customers visiting your audience, like:

  • Site visit
  • Purchase
  • Download
  • Sign up
  • Custom

conversion-tagging-twitter

Once you’ve captured these visitors, you can then advertise to these customers in Twitter. And the best part?

You’ll get higher engagement for your tweets, meaning high quality score and low cost of the ads.

6. Leverage Twitter Lists For Best Results

Twitter lists are a great way to organize your followers, clients, influencers, and your team members. Many people know this feature but very few actually utilize it.

In Twitter advertising, Twitter lists are a great way to advertise. Here’s a great example of this:

Larry Kim wrote a blog post for WordStream.

He shared the post throughout his social media account, and then promoted the post to the list of influencers using Twitter Ads.

tailored-audiences-twitter(Image Source

Within 48 hours, the post picked 500+ press mentions and 100K visitors. All of this with just a $50 budget and 10 minutes of campaign setup.

custom-audience-social-ads-roi-analysis

Pretty cool, right?

Your results may vary.

7. Upload Your Email List to Create Your Own Audience

In Twitter, you can upload your email list to create your own list of audiences. With this feature, you can advertise to your email subscribers.

This is a great feature especially when you want to nurture your leads or promote your products. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Head over to Twitter ads. Select Tools and click audience manager.
  2. audience-manager-twitter-ads

  3. Click create new audience. Then, select upload your own list.
  4. upload-your-own-list-twitter-ads

  5. Fill out all the information, upload your email list and click create list audience.

create-list-audience-twitter-ads

This list audience is extremely beneficial in Twitter. You can promote your blog posts, lead magnets, and promote your products.

8. Use Retargeting to Promote Your Content

Remarketing is an incredible way to advertise to your website visitors or your email subscribers. In Twitter, you can either use promoted tweets, Twitter cards, or promoted tweets.

All of them give you a great option to get more exposure. To use retargeting, here’s what you should do:

  1. You must upload your email list to retarget your email subscribers
  2. You must create a website tag and install it in your website

I recommend you set up a website tag and install it. It’s buried deep in Twitter, but it’s actually the first thing you should do before running any ad. Here’s how to generate a Website tag:

Login to Twitter Ads. Then, click tools, followed by conversion tracking.

conversion-tracking-twitter-ads

Next up, agree to the Terms and Conditions and then click generate website tag for conversions.

generate-website-tag-for-conversion-tracking-twitter-ads

In the next page you’ll get the website tag. Install the tag in your website to setup conversion tracking.

Once done, you can advertise to your website visitors based on their behaviors and their purchase.

Measure your Strategy’s Success

You’ve created your first ad. You’ve also optimized your ad to get sky-high conversions. Now, finally it’s time to analyze your ad’s performance and tweak it, if needed.

Let’s start…

1. Test With the Different Variations of the Same Ad

Twitter loves fresh tweets and that’s the reason it gives high preference to fresh tweets. You don’t want to continue running your old ads; instead, you want to create new variations and test with them.

Here are some ideas to test your ads:

creating-promotional-tweet

  • Test changing the headline of your tweet
  • Test changing the call-to-action button copy
  • Try moving the URL to the front or in the center of your tweet
  • Add relevant hashtags to your tweet, to see if it helps
  • Try adding, removing, or changing the image

2. Use UTM Parameters

UTM parameters are simply the tags to measure your online marketing campaigns inside Google Analytics or Kissmetrics.

It helps you analyze and measure your online marketing efforts.

For instance, if you’re offering an eBook and want to track the number of users who visited the landing page from your Twitter ad campaign, then you simply ad this tag to your URL.

http://yoursite.com/free-ebook/?utm_source=twitterad&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=ebook

Then, you can track every conversion in Kissmetrics. But, it’s quite a headache to create URL every time you create a new ad. For this, you can use Google’s URL Builder, which does a pretty decent job in generating UTM tags for your URL.

google-url-builder

3. Analyze, Tweak, Repeat

Finally, it’s time to measure your ad performance.

twitter-ad-dashboard(Image Source)

Pay close attention to your Twitter Ad dashboard, view your engagement rate, clicks, replies and likes.

Make sure to double-check this data with Google Analytics or Kissmetrics (a more robust option). This will help you find the actual number of clicks you’re generating.

With these results, check which campaigns are working and which aren’t. Delete the campaigns that aren’t working and double down on the stuff that’s working.

Conclusion

Twitter ads can be profitable; they can help you generate great ROI. But you must allocate your time to test with the platform.

Remember, Twitter can be misleading (hello, automatic bid) and at times their suggestions won’t work for you. Forget everything that Twitter told you, forget the best practices they told you.

Instead go by this approach, avoid the major pitfalls that Twitter offers and you’ll get incredible ROI from Twitter ads.

About the Author: Aman Thakur shows marketers and bloggers, simple and effective ways to build their mailing list super-fast. Download his exclusive bonus 101 list building strategies to grow your email list. A writer by day and a reader by night, he can be found online tweeting about marketing, or watching Cricket matches.

‘Tis the Season: How to “Sleigh” Your Holiday Social Media Campaigns

With cooler weather about to usher in the holiday season, it’s not too early to start making plans for your holiday social media campaign. In fact, some five million consumers in the U.S. last year had already wrapped up their holiday shopping before the end of summer.

Social media remains one of the most popular tools for business marketing, with 74 percent of marketers planning to increase its use within the next year, and 48 percent actively measuring related click-through rates. A poll this year shows the medium is most commonly being used for brand awareness (51 percent), lead generation (23 percent), and direct sales (17 percent). Overall, social media use increased 13 percent in the past year alone.

Once the holiday season really gets rolling, you’ll be glad for any social post preparation you made ahead of time. This year your social media and email can work in conjunction to promote your business, highlight specific products, and facilitate interest and trust in your brand.

While forecasters hadn’t made big predictions when this went to print, last year’s nationwide holiday sales crept up 3 percent to $626.1 billion. Act now to get your piece of the festive (pumpkin) pie with these social media tips.

Make a list, check it twice

  • Establish objectives. Are you trying to boost sales, reinforce your brand, drive followers to your website, boost email subscriptions, promote specific deals or products, create buzz, drive more foot traffic, or all of the above? Use that wish list to set specific goals for the season, like this for example: “We will entice 50 customers to redeem the coupons we post on Facebook.”
  • Choose effective venues. Each social media platform skews toward a demographic, so your decision may require market research and a review of where your competitors are active.
  • Establish a frequent posting schedule. Decide who will take on responsibility for the posting itself, understanding that posts can be pre-programmed to publish at different intervals. As a guideline, consider posting on Facebook three to 10 times weekly; Twitter five times daily; LinkedIn two to five times weekly; and Pinterest five to 10 times daily. 
  • Map out a seasonal calendar. Online tools offer schedule spreadsheets that can incorporate plans for the timing, subject, and content of each post or Tweet while storing images and videos. Jotting down topics and image links on a paper calendar works fine, too. The most popular kickoff is sometime during the first two weeks of November, though some businesses like to start earlier to include Halloween.
  • Be observant. In general, your audiences should receive relevant messages several days ahead of any event so they have time to plan and ship any gifts. Possibilities include Movember (all of November); daylight saving time (Nov. 6); Veterans Day (Nov. 11); Thanksgiving (Nov. 24); Black Friday (Nov. 25); Small Business Saturday (Nov. 26); Cyber Monday (Nov. 28); Free Shipping Day (Dec. 16); Hanukkah (Dec. 24 through Jan. 1); Kwanzaa (Dec. 26 through Jan. 1); Christmas Eve and Day (Dec. 24 and 25); and New Year’s Eve and Day (Dec. 31 and Jan. 1). This year, some forecasters are also predicting Singles Day (Nov. 11) will migrate from China.
  • Take advantage of cross-marketing. That means getting out your message on multiple channels to increase visibility. If you’re taking the time to create a compelling social media post about an upcoming event, sale or promotion, for example, it’s fairly easy to tweak that information into a corresponding email or blog.

Hitting Santa’s workshop 

  • Offer a variety. In general, the industry-standard “Rule of Thirds” dictates that a third of your posts build your brand via personal posts and responses; a third promote your business and its bottom line; and a third provide visitors useful information or opinions related to your industry.
  • Publicly support philanthropic causes and events. When appropriate, give your brand a bit of personality beyond business as usual by using your social media accounts to acknowledge charitable organizations that are important to you. Also, consider giving a shout-out to employees who are going above and beyond.
  • Choose quality over quantity. When in doubt, avoid overly promotional messages.
  • Be interactive. Ask for opinions, respond to comments, sponsor contests, and so on. You might ask customers for one-minute videos about how they’ll use your products during the holidays, host ugly sweater contests, or ask for worst weather or favorite gift photos. A custom Facebook app from a company like PromoJam can help. Research shows customers who engage with companies over social media spend 20 to 40 percent more money with that company. 
  • Feature clear, compelling visuals. The human brain perceives images in just 13 milliseconds, far more quickly than it perceives copy. Find a dozen interchangeable photos for your Facebook cover art, create a holiday-themed Pinterest board, and Tweet images from classic holiday movies, for example.
  • Offer exclusive giveaways, promotions, discounts, or info on special sales. Who doesn’t want free stuff, especially during the holidays?
  • Share holiday tips or advice. Find and present information that’s relevant to your audience, perhaps helping followers solve a problem. Consider festive recipes, decorating and entertaining ideas, or beauty and fashion tips.
  • Use surveys. A survey can be used to solicit and share valuable and timely information.
  • Conduct research on post timing. Determine the best times to publish posts for your given industry and audience.
  • Gather intelligence. Find out which posts and Tweets are performing best for current and future reference. Free tools like Facebook Insights and Google Analytics can help.
  • Count down to major holidays. Drum up excitement with a countdown.
  • Celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. A 12 Days of Christmas-themed campaign can be a fun way to spread out promotions, as RentMoola did here.
  • Tap into the urgency of last-minute shopping. Actively communicate shipping deadlines, product availability, and other time-sensitive information across all your social networks, as Walgreens did here. More than 40 percent of U.S. consumers do the majority of shopping in December or later.
  • Help them shop. Almost 65 percent of shoppers scroll through their social feeds to find ideas for the perfect present, so Tweet links to your products or set up a regularly updated gift guide on your Facebook page.
  • Respond quickly to comments, questions, complaints, and kudos. These days customers on social media expect immediate responses from brands, meaning your company will be viewed negatively if it fails in that regard.
  • Stay positive. Research shows customers who have a positive exchange with a business on social media are 71 percent more likely to recommend that business to others, so do everything you can to garner referrals.
  • Stay on top of unflattering reviews. Apologize for any inconvenience, be sympathetic to the customer’s needs, and offer to speak about the problem in private.
  • Promote trust. Offering stellar customer service and troubleshooting around the holidays will help build trust in your business.
  • Team up with a local charity. Consider holding a food drive or staging a BOGO promotion through which your business donates the other item to a family in need.

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© 2016, Tori Tsu. All rights reserved.

The post ‘Tis the Season: How to “Sleigh” Your Holiday Social Media Campaigns appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

VWO On-Page Surveys Report 2016 | How Smart Enterprises Gather User Feedback

Gathering qualitative insights from your visitors can go a long way in deciding what to optimize.

On-page Surveys or website surveys are one of the most certain ways to solicit such qualitative insights on what users actually think about your website and the areas where you can improve.

However, these On-page surveys also need to be optimized for best results. This report aims to help you create better On-page surveys and fetch higher number of responses.

We studied 1,154 On-page surveys created by different enterprises using VWO. The surveys contained 2,661 questions and received a total of 457,797 responses. We identified trends and patterns on how enterprises used the surveys and how visitors responded to them.

VWO On-Page Surveys Report 2016 CTA

For each factor involved, we’ve analyzed both how websites have commonly used On-page Surveys and how their customers/users have interacted with them. The report contains detailed insights under the following headings:

Number of Questions Used per Survey

We took a peek into the number of questions used per survey by various organizations and how that affected the completion rate of the survey.

Quite unsurprisingly, surveys with the least number of questions, that is, single-questioned surveys received the highest completion rate.

Types of Question Formats Used

Next, we looked into the different types of question formats used such as select-based questions, checkbox-type question, single-line response based questions, and so on.

Checkbox type questions were preferred the most, as these gathered the highest completion rate while single-line and multi-line response-based questions had the lowest completion rate.

Campaign Triggers Used

The performance of a survey also varies depending on when it is flashed in front of the website visitors. You can choose different actions like “click an element,” “time spent on page,” “exit intent,” and so on, as triggers to display your surveys.

The report highlights that “click an element” resulted in the highest completion rate.

Position of the Survey

Analyzing the position or placement of the survey also bore interesting results. Most companies opted for surveys placed on the right which also yielded marginally better results. The right-handed surveys had about 80% higher completion rate compared to the left-handed ones.

Ideal Time of Completion of the Survey

Lastly, we looked into the most common time when visitors on various websites chose to fill the surveys.

Over to You

The report incorporates valuable takeaways on all these fronts to help you create your On-page surveys like a breeze. Download your copy from the link provided here.

VWO On-Page Surveys Report 2016 CTA

The post VWO On-Page Surveys Report 2016 | How Smart Enterprises Gather User Feedback appeared first on VWO Blog.

10 Facebook Posting Tips to Improve Your Brand Awareness

Every business knows that Facebook is integral to a successful marketing strategy. But creating a winning strategy on the platform takes more than tossing random piece of content onto your Page and hitting publish.

The social network provides you with plenty of bells and whistles to help enhance your outreach strategy, but none of that matters if you don’t have a solid foundation to build upon. The content you publish sets the tone for your strategy, and without quality posts, you won’t be able to achieve your business objectives.

While there’s no such thing as the perfect Facebook post, there are ways you can optimize your content for success. Here, we’re going to look at 10 Facebook posting tips to help you improve brand awareness:

1. Use Tags for Additional Reach

An excellent way to put your content in front of users is to tag others in your Facebook Post. This is perfect for cross promotion with business partners and collaborators. It’s also a chance for you to acknowledge individual fans or customers. User-generated content is huge. If you’re integrating it into your Facebook strategy, tagging the original poster in your re-post is a digital kudos.

Now hold on just a minute. Doesn’t this encourage users to click through and visit other Profiles and Pages? Won’t it take valuable views away from your Page? It might seem that way on the surface, but tagging is a very smart strategy for Facebook marketers and here’s why: reach and engagement.

Tagging other Pages puts your content in front of users that might not follow you, thus increasing your reach. If you tag another Page, there’s a chance that post will appear in the News Feed of someone who Likes the Page that’s being tagged. It also gives you an organic boost when it comes to Facebook’s algorithm, which is heavily influenced by social media engagement. A click on your post counts as engagement. So by users clicking the tagged Page in your post, they’re actually helping to deliver your content to more News Feeds.

2. Leverage Trends

Trending Topics on Facebook show you the topics that have recently become popular on the social network. Based on engagement and location, Trending Topics are a powerful way to connect people around a major event and help them to engage in meaningful conversations.

Facebook posting tips like this will give you a glimpse of what’s being talked about and shared the most on the platform. One way you can get involved is by writing posts that are timely and include references—hashtags or keywords—to relevant trending topics.

Influenced by real-time happenings around the globe, it can be difficult to know what’ll be trending from day to day. That and these topics will change depending on your. That said, there are some trends that are easy to predict. For example, the presidential debates, popular sporting events (such as the World Series) and awards shows are among some of the live events you can expect to see trending.

3. Include Branded Hashtags, But Not Too Many

Hashtags play an important part in driving traffic to your Facebook Page. When used strategically within a post, they can also help you measure the reach and overall success of your marketing campaign. But while they certainly help with discoverability, don’t go overboard.

Research found that too many hashtags lower engagement, which can ultimately hurt your reach. In its study, posts with 1-2 hashtags averaged 593 interactions while posts with more than 10 hashtags averaged only 188 interactions.

4. Balance Stories & Promotions

Facebook is, without a doubt, a powerful marketing and sales tool, but not every post you publish needs to revolve around selling. Users want to see less promotional content and more stories from friends and Pages. A good content strategy will find a balance between promotional and non-promotional content.

Your Facebook Page should be about your business and products, but when crafting your content strategy, remember the 80/20 rule—80% of your updates should be social in nature. Try to stay away from publishing posts that only push people to buy a product, enter a promotion or sweepstakes or that reuse the same content from ads.

Instead, balance your promotional content with posts that are educational, entertaining or whimsical in nature. If you’re constantly selling, it doesn’t seem like you’re interested in building relationships or engaging in conversations with your customers.

5. Educate, Entertain & Repeat

Publishing posts for the sake of updating your Timeline isn’t a good approach when it comes to maintaining a successful content strategy. Instead, one of the better Facebook posting tips is to focus on creating content that fulfills your business objectives—remember those?

The Facebook posts you publish should add value in some way. Aim for updates that are educational, entertaining or conversational. Once you’ve found a balance that works for you, repeat. Then you can monitor your posts and their performance to see if one particular type of content is resonating with viewers more than others.

6. Say More With Less

Consider this statistic for a second: The average adult’s attention span is only eight seconds, which is one second faster than a goldfish. Customers are inundated with messages and content on a daily basis. Ensuring your posts capture and hold the interest of viewers is crucial.

On average, people read about 20-28% of the words in your post. When drafting your post, pay special attention to the first three to four words. Aside from any attached media you may have included, this is typically the first thing someone will notice about your update.

Your Facebook Page isn’t your company blog. Although some people are warming up to long-form content on the social network, not everyone is. In fact, Facebook posts between 0-50 characters receive the most engagement. Another study found that posts with 40 characters or less perform the best in terms of engagement.

optimal-facebook-post-length

Remember that you’re competing with updates from customers’ friends and families. Users will need a compelling reason to scroll past a friend’s update in favor of engaging with yours. Focus your energy on creating copy that’ll hook viewers and leave out unnecessary details.

7. Have More to Say? Use a Link

Not every message can be whittled down to a single sentence, and that’s okay. But you can’t assume that users will read through multiple paragraphs of text before reaching the call-to-action. Spoiler alert: they won’t. If you have a lot to say, then include a link in your Facebook post so people have the option of clicking through.

Research by Quintly found that links are the second most common type of content posted by Facebook Pages, accounting for 30% of posts worldwide. That percentage has likely shifted over time as photos, videos and links continue to compete for users’ attention. That said, Facebook is a consistent driver of referral traffic, responsible for about 40% of traffic sent to websites.

facebook-referral-traffic

People are including links in posts in two ways:

  1. In status updates where the link is the main focus of the post. In this case, the link appears with a large picture, a headline and some text that provides context on the link.
  2. In the text captions above photos. When shared this way, the link appears as a URL without any context.

Facebook found that people prefer to click links that are displayed in the link format rather than those included in link captions. The social network even prioritizes links displayed in the link-format within News Feed.

The link format offers viewers additional information associated with the link, such as the beginning of the article, which can influence whether someone wants to click through. As such, you must ensure that even your blog content is optimized for Facebook. Use strong headlines and leads.

8. Use Clear Calls-to-Action

You need to make it clear to users that you want them to do something and provide them with the necessary tools to do so. If your goal is to drive awareness and reach, then getting people to share your post should be a top priority. Creating compelling, high-quality content is the first step to meeting that objective. The second step is to tell viewers what you want.

In the case of shares, sometimes asking for what you want is the best approach. Posts that include the word “share” receive almost twice as many social actions (comments, likes and shares) compared to those that don’t.

Just make sure that your call-to-action aligns with the copy included in your post. For example, if your post is all about the benefits that come from subscribing to your newsletter, your call-to-action shouldn’t encourage people to shop now or download an app. Every asset included in your post should support the main objective of that post.

Here’s a great yet subtle example from Fitbit. This post is engaging because it appeals directly to viewers who feel like they need a little extra motivation or a challenge. It asks a direct question, provides a solution and links back to the campaign it’s promoting.

9. Use Original Photos

Posting photos is a great way to get attention from fans and drive engagement. Images account for 87% of the content shared on Facebook. This shouldn’t be surprising because images are much easier to digest than text. But not all images are created equal. When it comes to dressing up your business’ Facebook Page, focus on using original pictures rather than stock images.

Facebook posts that contain original photos feel more personal and organic. One of the reasons you’re using social media in the first place is to humanize your brand and help your customers learn about the people behind the logo. If you’re relying on generic images, you’re actually working against that objective.

Almost every, if not every employee has a smartphone. Leverage this by asking them to take some real pictures within their departments or while attending company-related events. Add these photos to your Facebook Page and use them in posts throughout your content cycle.

And when it comes to images of your products, the occasional standalone product shot is acceptable, but spice things up a bit by showing people actually engaging with your product. Reach out to customers for some user-generated content and create a more compelling story for viewers.

10. Target Your Posts

Depending on what your goals are, you might want to publish something that will interest people of specific ages or genders, or in specific locations. The easiest way to control who sees your content is through targeting. Facebook’s Audience Optimization tool, which replaced the older Interest Targeting feature, provides you with an organic way to reach and engage select segments of your target audience.

This is really important, especially for local businesses who want to appeal to people in specific locations. Getting started is very easy. If you have more than 5,000 Likes, Audience Optimization features were automatically turned on for your Page. If you haven’t reached that milestone yet, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to your Facebook Page.
  2. Click Settings in the top right-hand corner.
  3. Select General in the tab column on the left side of the screen.
  4. Find Audience Optimization for Posts in the middle of the page and click Edit.
  5. Check the box that enables you to use the feature.
facebook-audience-optimization

We recommend that you explore your Facebook Audience Insights before diving too deep into your targeting practices. This free tool provides you with behavioral and demographic data for your audience, which will give you a much better idea of who is engaging with your Page. Also, we should note that when you do target a post, it only affects how it’s delivered in News Feed. The post will still be visible to anyone who visits your Facebook Page.

A Few Parting Pieces of Advice

If you’ve followed the Facebook posting tips outlined above and posted with intent, your Facebook Page should be an engagement hub for your business. Don’t let messages from customers fall through the cracks. Our Smart Inbox brings messages from all your Facebook Pages into one, filterable stream, enabling you to easily monitor, engage with and reply to Timeline posts, comments and private messages.

Analyze What’s Working

You must track how your content performs. Effective data analysis will allow you to adapt your Facebook content strategy over time and deliver more of the content your audience responds to. A Facebook management tool like Sprout Social will help you measure, monitor and track your social activity.

analytics-report-facebook-pages

Dig into Facebook Insights data on the post level—including dark posts—to track performance. Through visualizing this data, you’ll better understand impressions, fan growth and content behavior, which will only make your future posts stronger.

Stay Organized

A great publishing strategy is more than just stellar content. Timing is everything, and without the right tools to effectively plan, organize and manage your content calendar, even the most engaging campaigns can fall flat.

A content calendar takes some of the guess work out of your strategy. At the very least, you should never be caught scrambling to find something to share. With Sprout, it’s easy to manage all Facebook posts from your team and make changes or add content. You can also draft posts for one or several Pages, attach images, edit meta data and apply organic targeting.

A successful content strategy on any social network weighs heavily on the relationships you build. Don’t just publish content and walk away. Focus on creating conversations about the things that you post and respond to users when they comment.

This post 10 Facebook Posting Tips to Improve Your Brand Awareness originally appeared on Sprout Social.

New Feature: Advanced Reporting Shows What Clicks With Your Readers

Now VerticalResponse helps you track how well your email campaigns are resonating with your contacts. Our new Advanced Reporting provides Pro Plan and Pay As You Go users with insightful metrics on open and click rates, how your emails are being read, and more — all of which can help improve future email campaign performance.

To access Advanced Reporting, simply select a sent email campaign from your messages home page and then navigate to the top of the results page. There you’ll find the report menu tab and these new, easy-to-use tools:

Device and browser statistics

When you know how your emails are being consumed, you can tweak the design and formatting of your messages to ensure they are displaying correctly on the device or browser your contacts are using. Device reporting presents that valuable information to you with a device breakdown, telling you how many of your emails are opened on desktop and on mobile. It also breaks that data down even further by client — you can see which browser, mobile device, and software your emails look and perform best on.

Geographic data

Geographic reporting tells you where in the world your emails are being read. This data, which is helpful when crafting personalized content, is presented both graphically through a map view, and in a table list that shows you the top opens and top clicks by location. This way you can adjust your messaging according to where your contacts are located. Geographic data is particularly useful for online businesses with customers in many different locations.

Heat map

The heat map feature lets you see how your contacts are interacting with your emails and what’s working best for your campaigns. A heat map provides a visual representation of where clicks occur within your email, so you can see which links attract the most attention. Do more readers click links at the top of the email, or after scrolling down? The heat map feature answers that, so you can determine where to place high priority content in future emails.

Domain reports

Find out which email clients (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and so on) your contacts use, and track how each is performing in terms of opens, bounces, clicks, and unsubscribes. Because email content may display differently with different clients, you can use these metrics to determine if you need to do any troubleshooting or make changes to your email design.

Comparison reports

See how the performance of your most recent email campaign stacks up against previous emails. Under the comparison tab, you’ll find five different options:

  • Number of Words in Subject Line vs. Open Rate
  • Characters in Subject Line vs. Open Rate
  • Recently Sent Emails Compare Open and Click Rate
  • By Time Open and Click Rate
  • By Day Open and Click Rate

By monitoring these metrics, you’ll get a more detailed picture of your readers’ habits and what they’re responding to, so you can create stronger emails.

Multiple lists metrics

If you have multiple contact lists, you no longer need to copy an email campaign and send it to each of your lists separately. With this update, you can save time by sending the same campaign to multiple lists. You’ll then receive individual reports for each list, detailing opens, clicks, bounces, and unsubscribes.

List reports can be viewed by clicking “Lists” on the report menu tab or the “Lists” drop-down menu above the report menu tab.

You can then use this data to focus your outreach strategy. For example, say you have three contact lists — one list collected at events, the second through your website, and the third at your store. If your “events” list ends up snagging the best open and click rates, you might decide to devote more energy into using more events to grow that list. 

Check out the Product Updates category to learn more about VerticalResponse’s newest features and updates.

 

Don’t Have a VerticalResponse Account Yet?

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© 2016, Amber Humphrey. All rights reserved.

The post New Feature: Advanced Reporting Shows What Clicks With Your Readers appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

How to Create Customers for Life with the Perfect Onboarding Sequence (Regardless of Industry)

Paid search is often the biggest driver of new customers.

Largely because people are typing in exactly what they’re looking for.

But.

These aren’t necessarily the most profitable customers you’ve got. Especially not in the beginning.

Your repeat ones are.

‘Retention’ is often associated with ninja-like email growth hacks. But it’s much more than that.

Proper ‘retention’ and onboarding starts the minute someone sets foot on your site, and their interaction can influence the rest of their experience over the next few hours, days, or weeks.

Here’s how.

How “Loyalty Economics” Works

Everyone says that repeat customers are more profitable than new ones.

Supposedly some book, Marketing Metrics, says that repeat customers have a 60-70% chance of converting.

At least, that’s what every blog post says when you Google ‘repeat customer vs. new customer‘ (I personally haven’t read it).

But what about a real study?

Waaaaaaay back in 1990, while most startup founders were still in diapers, Bain & Company partnered with Harvard Business School (ever heard of ‘em?) to analyze the, “costs and revenues derived from serving customers over their entire purchasing life cycle”.

When you translate that from Academia to English, you get, “how much repeat customers are worth vs. new ones”.

Originally published in a F-ing paper magazine, the study was groundbreaking in that it finally declared that “increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%”.

Basically it showed, empirically, that new customers are often unprofitable for the first few years based on high costs of acquisition (both hard and soft), and it’s only later with repeat ones do they become profitable.

A decade later (so we’re still talking back in 2000 at this point), Harvard revisited the study to now include online purchases. Not only did those same ‘loyalty economics’ patterns show up, but the differences were also “greatly exaggerated online”.

For example, companies only online (as opposed to both online and brick and mortar) usually had to spend 20-40% more on new customer acquisition.

customer-life-cycle-economics-in-ecommerce(Image Source)

These studies gave widespread notoriety to ‘retention marketing’, as a theory, and in practice, that shows up almost everywhere online today.

And it’s important to note that we aren’t just some trendy, hipster, mobile SaaS apps either. But all industries.

For example, online grocers typically had to retain customers for 18 months to break-even after a $80 customer acquisition cost.

spending-growth-impact-bain(Image Source)

Bain looked at many different retailers, from consumer electronics to apparel and appliances, finding the same exact patterns pop up.

Not only were repeat customers worth more than new ones, but that repeat ones also were more likely to refer you to new customers (thereby dragging down your cost of acquisition on those new people as well).

referral-impact-bain(Image Source)

Former eBay CEO, Meg Whitman, said at the time that, “more than half of its customers are referrals”. And that because word of mouth was so much, they “spent less than $10 to acquire a customer”.

Fast forward to today, and the same exact trends emerge.

Adobe found that repeat customers are 9x more likely to convert (compared to new customers who haven’t purchase prior).

And Sweet Tooth Rewards found that repeat customers have a 54% chance of purchasing again (compared with a 27% chance of new customers).

Or, ask Amazon.

Prime members will spend $75 billion this year alone.

On average each year, they spend about $1,200 compared with around $500 for non-Prime members.

growth-of-prime-membership-in-united-states(Image Source)

Now that we’ve beat the issue to death, here’s the rub:

If repeat customers are worth more, less price sensitive, and more often to refer than new customers…

… Why do we spend 12% of marketing budgets on retention?

(And probably less of our attention?)

1. Define Success Milestones

Before Dave McClure was an uber-accelerator extraordinaire, he wrote incredibly insightful, humorlessly punctuated and often NSFW blog posts.

One of these clever, punchy posts quickly morphed into startup metrics; becoming a simple analytical framework alternative to the ever-increasing complex dashboards found in most startups today.

The premise was simple: pick a few key metrics for each funnel stage to illustrate when it’s been met.

One specifically, Activation, focused on making sure people had a “happy-first experience” that’s required before any retention could happen.

Get ready to literally travel back in time, as this next image is embedded directly from Flickr.

Startup Metrics: Example Conversion Dashboard (AARRR!)

“Activation” is similar to “customer centric success milestones” from Lincoln Murphy, in that you’re shooting for a few key moments when things to start to click for a customer.

For example, in a recent blog post, Lincoln uses an example someone starting an online store and defines a few of the possibilities, such as:

  1. Creating the store
  2. Adding logo, designs, etc.
  3. Setting up a payment gateway
  4. Creating new products.
  5. … You get the picture.

The idea is to identify (and eventually instrument) key activities on your site or inside your app that will later be used for forces of good (like follow up), but for now can be signs of success (or problems) that either help (or hurt) people’s customer experience (and thus, your conversions).

For example, the other day I was looking for a hotel. They had a nice suite, and I clicked on ‘show room amenities’ to see exactly what it looked like.

Instead of, oh – I dunno, pictures, video, or diagrams, I was met with this:

hotel-room-amenities-list-on-website

A huge wall of text, featuring an overwhelming amount of bullet points that does nothing to (a) communicate their value, but more importantly (b) help a potential customer achieve that ‘happy first experience’ of View Rooms –> Decide to Search Dates.

Those little micro-interactions are critical, because it mimics our unconscious browsing behavior that leads us to say, “Yes! Tell me more…” vs. “Eh, let’s keep looking”.

Design, and more specifically UX, is supposed to guide those interactions; giving customers what they want most while also steering them towards your ultimate business objectives.

For example, if you were to hit the back button (don’t do it now!) or go back to the Kissmetrics product pages, you’ll notice the ‘next steps’ for customers are clearly highlighted, with primary actions featured visually while secondary ones are more subtle.

kissmetrics-analytics-conversion-product-page-september-2016

Providing clear paths through your site (or app) is the first step towards getting a customer generated, or a free trial to become sticky – prior to any retention taking place. And you do that by not making people think.

You can even instrument these ‘customer success milestones’ in your funnel, giving a more nuanced view of actionable steps that you can make better marketing decisions around (like, “Hey – why are all those people dropping off between Cart –> Order?!”)

For example, here’s how a typical eCommerce funnel can be set up, where people visit the site, view products, add to cart, start the checkout process, and eventually place order.

ecommerce-funnel-new-kissmetrics-funnel

SaaS apps, while different, aren’t really all that different at all. You still have people coming to a site, doing some initial browsing of key pages, signing up for a free trial, actually using the product for a bit before entering their billing info and hitting Upgrade if all looks good.

saas-funnel-new-kissmetrics-funnel

Now that you’ve got the major steps or milestones outlined, you can begin to dig into the details to uncover gaps inside or out of your product.

2. Map Your Customer Lifecycle

It’s slightly depressing to think that around half of your free trial users will sign up, use it one time, and then never come back again – dropping your app fast like the worst of one night stands.

And while these ‘onboarding’ techniques (or statistics in this case) are often associated with SaaS products, it’s important to realize that it’s no different for how people starting shopping on an eComm site, only to bounce (like 67% of them). Or start punching in their travel dates for a hotel, without ever completing the booking (81% of them).

(It’s also important to note that you can’t do some of the ‘classic onboarding’ stuff like event-based messaging – which we’ll discuss in the third part below – until these first two are sorted out.)

The only saving grace is that you can increase conversions without A/B testing by making changes to how people look for, find, and complete these ‘milestones’ you’ve just identified.

One simple method is to identify friction points as people attempt to navigate the treachery (that is your sitemap) and hit each milestone.

For example, friction points can be at the very start of a customer interaction, when they’re simply trying to find a product to add to cart.

amazon-departments-dropdown

But they’re more commonly in the middle of an interaction, when they’re trying to find specific things but your site is making it impossible.

For example, below is a basic Heatmap analysis showing a service-based site’s portfolio of work.

no-clicks-heatmap

Notice something missing?

The freaking clicks! It’s a virtual ghost town, with basically ZERO focused clicks and page interactions.

There is a hover animation (that you obviously can’t pick up on an analysis like this), but for whatever reason it’s not doing its job in getting people to click and view the portfolio examples (which is a critical step to them hitting the Contact Us button and reaching out).

Again – these principles apply inside an app as well as outside on the marketing site.

For example: Toggl. Awesome product. Insanely simple time tracking. Even the least technical people enjoy it.

Until, that is, when you’re about to log time against a new project and you need to setup a new client.

toggl-create-project

And you see… nothing? You can create a project here, but no Client (even though the label tells you to Add a Client).

(This also reminds me of Google Hangouts. Which you can tell was built by engineers. Because while using the product is great, starting one is another nightmare entirely.)

A path report comes in handy here, allowing you to dig deeper into the customer journey and pinpoint where some problem areas exist.

Segmenting your converters vs. non-converters, and then analyzing differences in their path or journey, is one way to surface these issues.

path-report-tracking-conversion-rate

As an added bonus, path reports can also give you better attribution metrics because they’ll pick up all the stuff that happens during (not just before and after) a complete customer journey. You can track this stuff back to which (and how) your marketing channels (and thus, budget + resources) influence each step.

path-report-total-conversions

3. Event-Based Messaging

Now, it’s time for the good stuff.

The drip email campaigns to new trial-ers. The shopping cart abandonment. The in-app notifications. Heck, even the picking up the phone!

The key distinction here though, is that your outbound messaging and communication should now be tied to the milestones and path events you just identified (as opposed to static, time-based autoresponders.)

For example, Audible recently emailed me this promotion.

The design is fine (although image-heavy). The offer is good. And the Cialdini-esque urgency is great!

audible-promotional-email

The key here is segmentation. The fine print says I’m receiving this because I have unused credits in my account (as of a certain date).

Unused credits = not using the product.

Not using the product = about to churn.

So they’re proactively targeting based on events to inspire (or dictate) action they want taken.

(Don’t worry Audible – got some travel coming up that will take care of those credits.)

Good email workflows can deliver similar results, spinning off new sequences of communication based on actions an individual might take on your website (or even another channel).

For example, many subscribers and leads often go dormant (see the stats at the beginning of the last section). So you can ‘win them back’ by getting a little extra details about what they’re into or looking for, and then tailoring your own messaging accordingly.

Below, I’m trying to pull out all people who’re implicitly answering this question by clicking on a specific ‘website’ link (as opposed to another topic that was provided, like marketing automation).

re-engage-tofu-email-drip

Now you have the trigger, which should kick off or refine the next communication they see.

Let’s say someone’s on-site (or in-app) and not moving. They got distracted and went somewhere else for a few minutes (physically, or a new browser tab). But you don’t want them to bounce.

As the stats show, there’s a good chance they’re bouncing and not coming back to (1) complete the purchase, (2) modify their account in your app, (3) leave a booking process, or (4) don’t fill out your long service-based opt-in.

The first step is to identify the trigger, or the idleness in this case, based mostly on time (in seconds or minutes).

You can then throw up a lightbox message to catch their attention, provide a recommendation, offer a promotion or incentive, etc.

kissmetrics-engage-pick-trigger

You can also customize the location of the message they’re seeing based on importance or priority as well. So while a complete lightbox might be appropriate for an almost bouncing visitor, a simple bumper in the lower right hand side or basic notification might be enough for loyal people already working diligently inside your app.

kissmetrics-engage-design-action

Conclusion

Research studies conducted over several decades all show that repeat customers are the most profitable and most likely to refer you someone new.

Brand new customers on the other hand, are also shown to be unprofitable for a period of time because of their high costs of acquisition.

All that, and yet we still dedicate so little time and money behind retention strategies as opposed to new acquisition.

This problem is pervasive in most industries – not just SaaS – where online buyer’s typically hit website bottlenecks while trying to give you money.

Until these friction points and paths are smoothed out, it’s impossible to start running sophisticated retention strategies.

Because the most effective communication or messaging strategies are heavily reliant on specific actions people just did (or didn’t take) – and not some arbitrary method like time.

The tactics are the easy part. Where to place a link or what pop-up style to use. It’s just a Google away.

The hard part, is figuring out what to Google in the first place. And that comes back to your customer’s (not your) milestones.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad’s blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.

Create professional eBooks faster than you can carve a pumpkin


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For anyone who needs professional designs without complicated software

A few weeks ago I needed to create a webinar deck for a client (yeah bro, I freelance).

I decided to use a popular online design tool to make things easier.

It didn’t. Slower than dial-up, downloads formatted weirdly, and resolution was horrible.

According to RescueTime, I wasted over 23 hours(!) grinding it out through frustration and tears.

I wish I was kidding.

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If you’re creating presentations, webinars, or eBooks, you need a simple way to whip up beautiful designs on the fly.

DesignBold is the cleanest, simplest, and fastest online design tool for non-designers we’ve come across.

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DesignBold eliminates the complexity of most design software.

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You can create from scratch, or use one of DesignBold’s beautiful templates for…

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Even Fiona is showing mad love:

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The rest of the world pays $228/yr for access to DesignBold (much cheaper than what a freelancer charges for a small project).

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Analyzing User Behavior for Smarter A/B Testing | Use Cases for Travel Industry

Knowing how your users interact with your website help you learn what motivates or stops them from converting. Naturally, analyzing user behavior (or visitor behavior) is the first step that enterprises operating in the online realm should take toward conversion optimization.

Travel enterprises, particularly, majorly run their business online; studying and understanding visitor behavior is even essential for them. The challenge for them is to convince users persistently on each step of the conversion funnel. Only a thorough understanding of user pain points and interest areas will help them improve customer experience.

The tools listed below help in analyzing users behavior on websites effectively:

  • Heatmaps: Highlight the click pattern of your visitors. See which areas on your website win maximum/minimum attention.
  • Visitor Recordings: Playback your visitors’ actual page interactions and identify the drop-off points.
  • Form Analysis: Discover what slows down form fills or what causes lost conversions on forms/form fields.

In this post, we have analyzed a few case-studies from the travel industry and suggested use cases for heatmaps, visitor recordings, and form analysis. The post shows how the tools can help create data-driven hypotheses for A/B testing, and therefore can help travel enterprises optimize smarter.

Heatmaps Use Cases for Travel Industry

Heatmaps help you find areas on your website where the visitors have clicked the most.

heatmaps

Listed are some heatmaps-specific use cases for travel enterprises.

Use Case 1

Company: KRAS.NL, a Dutch travel and tour company

Objective: To increase sales from new visitors.

Hypothesis: Revamping the footer on the home page such that it helps new visitors understand all that the site offers will increase sales from new visitors.

Test: An A/B test was run between the control and a variation, with the variation containing a footer. This footer displayed all products for ease of search. It was designed to aid new visitors who weren’t aware of all things that the site offered.

Test Results: Version B increased new visitor sales by 53%. However, it reduced sales from returning visitors by 14%. As a result, KRAS.NL now provides the option of suppressing the footer for returning customers. Read their entire case study here.

Control:

KRAS.NL control page

Variation:

Variation for KRAS.NL - User behavior analysis with heatmap
Source

Heatmaps Analysis: Further to designing the footer, KRAS.NL could have taken up the activity of analyzing user behavior or interactions with it, using heatmaps. As the footer showcased a list of offerings for new visitors, KRAS.NL could have studied which elements/offers got most/least clicks and could have optimized the footer accordingly. Using scrollmaps, KRAS.NL could find out how many people reach the footer and understand if it was at all a good idea to optimize the footer.

Moreover, KRAS.NL could have studied the number of clicks for each element on the footer. They could have made the elements on the footer that were fetching more clicks, more prominent.

Use Case 2

Company: PlanetAmex 

Objective: Increase number of responses from visitors interested in international first class and business class airline travel.  

Hypothesis: 91% of PlanetAmex’s visitors are new visitors. The challenge was that these new web prospects on PlanetAmex weren’t spending enough time on the website. PlanetAmex hypothesized that by improving the readability of content on the home page and making the logos prominent, it will be able to convert new customers into leads.

Test: With the help of WiderFunnel Marketing Optimization, PlanetAmex conducted a LIFT analysis for their home page. Thereafter, they designed three variations of the home page such that each variation addressed one drawback of the control version.

Variation 1: Credibility

The LIFT analysis showed that the home page had weak credibility because the logos were hidden and value proposition appeared way below the fold. Variation 1 clearly mentioned the headline: Discount First Class & Business Class Airfare. The visuals around the headline were done away with. Call-to-action buttons were placed both above and below the fold. Logos were made prominent and were shifted to the right of the page to lend more credibility.

Variation 2: Hero Image of a Business Traveler

This variation had an image of a business traveler on the upper-left corner of the page. Call-to-action buttons were shifted to the left, below the hero image.

Variation 3: Offer

In this variation, the hero image of the business traveler was shifted to the right of the page. So the “Discount First Class & Business Class Airfare” offer appeared on the left.

Test Results: Variation 1 won with a 48% lead generation conversion rate increase for phone calls. To learn more, read further about the case study in this post by Widerfunnel.

Control:

Cook Travel Home Page 'Control'

Variation:

User Behavior Analysis Heatmaps
Source

Heatmaps Analysis: Widerfunnel studied clarity of elements on the home page, based on factors such as eye flow, calls-to-action, and copywriting. A heatmaps/eye flow analysis could have helped Cook Travel find out:

  1. The depth of the page till where visitors actually scroll.
  2. The areas on the page to which users pay maximum and minimum attention.

Using heatmaps, Cook Travel could have analyzed whether the trust seals on the home page were actually getting noticed or getting enough attention from the visitors. Identifying the exact areas on the home page where users pay maximum attention could have helped Cook Travel to arrive at their hypothesis faster.

Visitor Recordings Use Case for Travel Industry

Visitor recordings show behavior of individual users on your website during a particular session. This tool helps you see each action that a visitor takes on your site—clicks, scrolls, drops-offs, and so on. You can read more about visitor recordings here.

 

 

Use Case 1

Company: Bizztravel Wintersport, a part of Bizz Travel Group

Objective: To improve the navigation design such that searching and navigating the site becomes friction free.

Hypothesis: There were a number of problems related to navigation that Bizztravel wanted to address. For example, visitors browsing their site did not know that the village of Flaine is located in the region of Le Grand Massif. To find the Flaine page, a visitor had to click through an average of 5 regions. In such a navigation system, visitors were getting lost during a seemingly simple task of finding a vacation. Bizztravel hypothesized that creating a clear and simple navigation menu would allow visitors to reach their desired vacation faster and reduce early exits caused by frustration or distraction. The idea was that the new header would make it easier for users to navigate, and therefore increase conversion rates.

Test: A variation was created with a new header that was redesigned for better navigation. It also had a drop-down menu, which allowed visitors looking for information such as the “Top 10 skiing destinations in France.” These changes reduced friction and clutter of information, as displayed in the control, and made it easier for users to navigate.

Test Results: The primary goal of this A/B test was to track visits to Bizztravel’s “Thank You” page (Bedankt). The winning version with the redesigned navigation got 21.34% higher goal completions with a test result confidence level of 97%. Read the entire case study here.

Control:

bizztravel control page

Variation:

BizzTravel Variation - Visitor Recording and User Behavior Analysis
Source

Visitor Recording Analysis: The primary goal was to track visits to Bizztravel’s “Thank You” page. Therefore, running a visitor recording for visitors who landed on the home page but did not arrive at the “Thank You” page could have helped Bizztravel identify the drop-off points on their home page as well as in the conversion funnel. This would have helped them analyze and fix the points of friction in the journey of a visitor who wants to book a vacation. Studying visitor journeys by playing their recordings could have helped Bizztravel arrive at a hypothesis faster.

Use Case 2

Company: Vegas.com, a travel and tourism website

Objective: To improve mobile performance on a number of key metrics.

Hypothesis: Vegas.com compared its mobile with desktop user behavior and found out that mobile traffic was underperforming to a great extent. Their mobile site was converting less than 3% of its visitors and had a 50% abandonment rate. However, with 7% of its overall traffic already coming from mobile users, Vegas.com hypothesized that by introducing mobile-specific content, it will be able to target and convert mobile users better.

Test: Vegas.com ran a controlled A/B test and measured a variety of key user behavioral metrics. They discovered that mobile users benefit from content tailored specifically around mobile devices.

Test Results: The mobile-optimized version won. Some of the improvements that Vegas.com achieved were:

  • 22% reduction in the bounce rate
  • 16% increase in page views
  • 14% increase in hotel searches
  • Double-digit lift in the conversion rate
Analyze User Behavior on mobile
Source

You can read the entire case study here.

Visitor Recording Analysis: As the idea was to provide an optimized experience to mobile users, Vegas.com could have further run visitor recordings on their mobile-optimized version. Doing so would have helped them:

  • Study the current navigation pattern of users from home page to category pages to bookings page.
  • Identify the drop-off points and bottlenecks on this user navigation path.

Accurate data about the entire user journey on their website could have helped in further optimization of user experience on their mobile site. For example, visitor recordings could have helped playback the sessions of visitors who arrived on the mobile home page of Vegas.com but did not complete the checkout. The visitor recordings could have highlighted the drop-off points on the website such as registration forms or the checkout page.

Form Analysis Use Cases for Travel Industry

Form analysis can help identify where visitors drop off on the form, the fields they hesitate to fill, and what slows down form fills. You can read more about form analysis here.

From Analysis

Use Case 1

Company: Expedia, a leading brand serving the global online travel industry

Objective: To improve the conversion rate on the form on the checkout page.

Hypothesis: The form on Expedia’s checkout page asked users to fill all their billing and travel information before they press the Buy Now button. One of the fields on the form contained “Company” as an optional field. Expedia found that customers were filling their bank name instead of their company name. Such instances were creating confusion and hindrance in the entire form-filling process.

Test: A variation was created wherein the Company Name field was altogether deleted from the form.

Test Results: Removing the form field “Company Name” helped the company gain $12 million in profit a year. For more information on this case, read this post.

Expedia user behavior form analysis
Source

Form Analysis: By simply removing one form field that was causing confusion for users, Expedia gained a profit of $12 million per year. Further running a form analysis could have helped them study user interactions on individual fields in the form. A form analysis could help them obtain information such as:

  • Hesitation time on a field
  • Number of times a field was refilled
  • Number of drop-offs on a field

…and so on

For example, the data obtained from form analysis for Expedia could study the total time spent on the checkout form. If people were spending more than the “desired time”, Expedia could have probably introduced a drop-down option with fields like State to reduce the time spent on filling the form, making for another testing hypothesis.

Conclusion

Visitor behavior tools and techniques help analyze both aggregate and individual user behavior. These tools such as heatmaps, visitor recordings, and form analysis can help enterprises identify pain points in their visitors’ journeys. Although this post talks about use cases only from travel cases, visitor behavior tools can be leveraged by any online enterprise.

How did you like the post? Give us a rating and drop in a line or two in the comments section.

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The post Analyzing User Behavior for Smarter A/B Testing | Use Cases for Travel Industry appeared first on VWO Blog.

12 Tips for Making a More Engaging Video for Facebook Live

As a marketer, you know how important it is to create a connection with your audience.

It’s essential for slashing through the barriers that divide us, for establishing a unique brand identity, and for building trust.

There have been times I’ve been successful in doing so. But at other times, I’ve fallen flat.

It’s getting easier than ever to create a unique connection because we now have the technological tools to do so.

One of the best tools enabling you to do this is Facebook Live, which “lets people, public figures and Pages share live video with their followers and friends on Facebook.”

The concept is simple. You record a live video your audience can watch in real time and respond to by commenting.

Facebook Live provides the perfect framework for connecting, and its personable nature is ideal for facilitating interaction.

In fact, initial data has found that people comment over 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos.

But how can you ensure your videos are engaging?

Here are some tips that should point you in the right direction.

1. Consider investing in some equipment

First things first. You really want to strive for quality with your videos.

You want to look like a professional.

Any sign of amateurism can drive a wedge between you and your audience.

That’s why I recommend buying some basic equipment to enhance your quality.

This doesn’t need to be anything over the top, but a simple tripod can help stabilize your videos so they don’t look shaky.

You can usually find a decent tripod for as little as $10, so this shouldn’t break the bank.

image00

Or if you’re recording from a location where a tripod isn’t viable, you can always use a selfie stick to serve as a stabilizer.

2. Experiment with lighting

Lighting is important for producing a good video because it can impact its overall quality in a big way.

If you’re filming outdoors, this shouldn’t be a problem as long as it’s reasonably sunny.

But if you’re filming indoors, you’ll want to try out different lighting options to see what looks the best.

Generally speaking, the more lighting, the better.

If you’re in a room with dim lighting, you may want to bring in an extra lamp so that you’re more visible.

image03

3. Test the process before going live

Let’s be honest. You’ll probably run into a few glitches when first starting out.

It can also be a little nerve-racking when you start broadcasting yourself to a large number of your followers.

That’s why I recommend testing everything beforehand and getting comfortable with the idea of being in front of the camera.

You can do this by switching the privacy setting to “Only Me,” which can be found by clicking on “More” and scrolling to the bottom.

image04

Record a couple of test videos until you’re familiar with the nuts and bolts of the way things work.

This way everything should go relatively smoothly, and you’ll be less likely to freeze up once you’re live in front of an audience.

4. Make sure you’ve got a solid connection

You definitely don’t want a weak connection when recording a video.

According to Facebook, “WiFi tends to work best, but if you can’t find a nearby network, you’ll want a 4G connection.”

This shouldn’t be an issue if you’re indoors. But if you’re in a fairly remote outdoor location, it most definitely can be.

If you’ve got anything less than 4G, you’re probably better off choosing a different location.

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If you see that the “Go Live” button is grayed out, you have a weak signal.

5. Create an outline

From my experience, it’s best to have a basic game plan when using Facebook Live.

You don’t want to jump in without knowing what you’ll be talking about.

Of course, you’ll want to ad lib to some extent, but I recommend having at least three or four main points to cover.

You’ll also want to address each point in a logical, sequential order so that your audience doesn’t get confused.

6. Leave some room for spontaneity

At the same time, you don’t want your outline to be so rigid that there’s no wiggle room.

Because your video is in real time, you never fully know what’s going to come your way.

An interesting idea may pop into your head, or a viewer might ask a question that steers your video in a slightly different direction.

This is why I suggest trying to achieve a nice balance between an outline and spontaneity to ensure things stay on track but don’t become boring.

7. Provide context

Before you jump into all the gory details of your broadcast, it’s important you briefly explain to your viewers what’s going on.

You’ll want to introduce yourself, identify where you’re at if you’re out in the field, and provide a basic rundown of what you’ll be talking about.

This will inform your viewers about what’s happening and will provide some essential context.

8. Recap what’s going on

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Another thing you need to keep in mind is that viewers will tune in at different times.

Here’s what I mean.

At the beginning of a video, you may have only 10 viewers. But at five minutes in, you may have 100.

At 10 minutes in, you may have 250 and so on.

In order to keep everyone in the loop, you’ll want to periodically restate who you are and what’s happening.

This is why it’s smart to recap the details from time to time. I’ve found that the following intervals tend to work well.

  • Two to three minutes in
  • 10 minutes in
  • 25 minutes in

Just make sure you keep your recaps brief because this can be annoying to viewers who have been watching from the start.

9. Be yourself

This little snippet of advice is quite possibly the most cliché thing ever.

But nonetheless, you’ll want your tone and verbal delivery to be hyper-authentic and match your brand identity.

Most people can spot phoniness a mile away, so I discourage you from trying to be something you’re not.

If you’re polite, courteous, and friendly by nature, keep your video content in line with this.

Or if you’re a little cynical and snarky, that’s fine too. Just keep it real, and let your personality shine through.

The bottom line is that you should make your videos match your brand.

10. Be relaxed

Okay, this is easier said than done.

It’s common to get a case of the jitters and be a little unnerved by the whole prospect of being broadcast live to potentially hundreds, or even thousands, of viewers.

But it’s important to get yourself in the right headspace when recording.

Although it’s normal to be a little nervous, especially if you’re new to Facebook Live, you’ll want to remain as calm as possible.

This should help you be more fluid with your delivery and make your content more interesting.

11. React to viewer comments

One of the easiest and most effective ways to crank up the engagement level is to simply respond to what your viewers are saying.

During a video, viewers can leave their comments and ask questions. Be sure to spend part of the time reacting. This is key to making the process as intimate and organic as possible.

I even recommend addressing some of your viewers by name because this really gets them in on the action.

And because people have a natural affinity for hearing their own names, it’ll give you some brownie points that can pay off in the long run.

If you know you’ll be so preoccupied with recording a video that you won’t have the time to respond to comments (this can be really difficult when comments come in fast), I suggest having a partner who is also logged into to the primary account.

They can be responsible for answering comments and can help facilitate the overall process.

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12. Stay live for longer to extend your reach

Want to reach as many viewers as possible and maximize the engagement level?

Stay live for longer.

Facebook recommends you stay live for at least 10 minutes per video, but you can go for as long as 90 minutes.

Think about it. The longer you stay live, the better your chances of reaching a larger audience will be.

While 90 minutes may be overkill when you’re first getting the hang of Facebook Live, somewhere between 15 to 30 minutes can be the right formula.

Once you’re more familiar and comfortable with the process, you can go live for longer and longer.

Conclusion

Facebook Live is no doubt a powerful medium for bridging the gap between you and your audience.

If you use it correctly, you can create incredibly engaging content that “pops” and allows you to connect in a personal, intimate way.

This form of two-way communication can be just the ticket for tightening your relationship with your audience and for taking your brand to the next level.

What has your experience been like with Facebook Live?

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Google Tag Manager: Giving Mobile Tagging a Little Extra Love

Over the last several months, we have talked about Google Tag Manager’s improvements to enterprise workflows, enhanced our security features, and made great strides to bring more partners into our Vendor Tag Template Program. Tag Manager also launched a new mobile SDK at Google I/O in May that builds on the power of Firebase, Google’s mobile app developer platform. Today, we’re excited to announce our latest efforts to make mobile tagging easier than ever with Google Tag Manager.

Welcoming AMP to the Tag Manager family

We are excited to launch support for ⚡ Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in Google Tag Manager! AMP is an open-sourced initiative to make the mobile experience better for everyone. Early data shows that AMP pages load 4x faster and use 10x less data than equivalent non AMP pages. Starting today, you can start using Google Tag Manager to simplify your tag deployment on AMP sites.

While implementing measurement solutions on AMP pages has already been possible, it can be confusing and cumbersome for folks who are new to AMP or who have tagging needs beyond tracking a basic page view. That’s why, in addition to Google Analytics, AMP containers in Tag Manager provide support across Google’s ad platforms including AdWords and DoubleClick. You will find more than 20 tag types available out of the box including a variety of 3rd party vendor tags. We also made sure that firing your tags is a breeze with great coverage of AMP’s triggers as readily available built-in Tag Manager triggers:

When setting up tags, it’s common to want to collect additional values such as how far the user has scrolled down the page or the page’s title. AMP Analytics’ variables serve this purpose and are available in Google Tag Manager as built-in variables ready to be integrated into your tags. You can head over to our support pages for a full list of supported tags and information on how to use built-in variables.

Getting started is as easy as it sounds:

  1. Create a new container for your AMP site
  2. Drop the Tag Manager snippet on your AMP pages
  3. Create your first tags
  4. Preview & Publish

AMP containers are built with the familiarity and flexibility that existing Google Tag Manager users already depend on. As with our other solutions in Tag Manager, AMP containers “just work” out of the box.

Improving Tag Manager for mobile apps 

When we announced Google Tag Manager’s new SDK at Google I/O, we brought an integration method to Android and iOS apps that builds on the power of Firebase. This integration makes it easier than ever for developers and marketers to manage where their app data is sent, both within Google and to our supported Tag Template Vendors.

New triggers for events Firebase automatically detects


Today, we are making our mobile app containers even more intuitive and easy to use by tapping into the events that Firebase detects automatically. Now, when you are in a Firebase mobile container, you will see several new options when setting up triggers. Whether your container targets Android or iOS, you will see a new section called “Firebase Automatic Events” which contains the supported automatically detected events for the respective platforms. You can also find built-in variables for each of those events’ parameters, so setting up your tags should be a cinch.

Find parameters when you need them

In addition to the events Firebase can detect automatically, developers are encouraged to implement general events for all apps as well as suggested events by app type to help them fully take advantage of Firebase features. Once implemented, you’re able to use the parameters from these events in your tags: just create a new user-defined variable and select “Event Parameter.” With this new feature, you no longer have to remember which parameters are available for which events. Select the event you’re working with, and you get a list of available parameters.

We are dedicated to providing you with best-in-class tag management.  As consumers shift to mobile, our priorities include developing simple, easy-to-use solutions for the latest mobile technologies.

Whether you are building mobile apps or adopting the AMP platform, we’ve got you covered.

Posted by Ben Gram, Product Manager, Google Tag Manager

The Do’s and Don’ts of Email Delivery [Infographic]

It may come as no surprise that here at VerticalResponse, we love email. After all, it’s what we do! But there’s more to it than that — email is a killer marketing tool. In a recent study, the Direct Marketing Institute found that 48 percent of consumers prefer to hear from companies on a weekly basis, and that email marketing delivers a whopping 4,300 percent return on investment (ROI). That’s $43 ROI to each $1 you spend on your email campaigns. Pretty good, right? We think so too.

When you send an email for your business, you expect it to simply appear in your subscribers’ inboxes, right? Well, there’s a lot more to getting email delivered than you may expect. Email Service Providers (ESP), like VerticalResponse, do a lot to ensure your email makes it to the inbox, but you play a part in delivery, too. This infographic outlines do’s and don’ts you should follow to help your emails make it into the inbox, rather than the dreaded SPAM folder.

dos-and-donts-of-email-delivery_final1-1

Learn more about email delivery in our Ultimate Guide to Email Delivery – To the Inbox & Beyond.

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It’s easy to use and free to get started. Sign up and send up to 4,000 emails per month for free.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.

© 2016, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

The post The Do’s and Don’ts of Email Delivery [Infographic] appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

PB162: How Lisa Took Action and Built a Six Figure Business

How Lisa Corduff Took Action and Built a Six Figure Business

In today’s episode, we hear from Lisa Corduff from lisacorduff.com in an interview that Karly Nimmo from Radcasters recorded at the ProBlogger event a few weeks ago.

Lisa spoke at the event in one of our most highly rated sessions titled ‘Anyone Can Create an Online Product’. It was a session that resonated with a lot of attendees.

problogger_162

Lisa is a whole foods blogger who had been blogging and had a facebook page for a couple of years without tremendous growth but decided to ramp things up. She started a free 21 day challenge which really took off and then created a paid 8 week program to offer to her community called ‘Small Steps to Whole Food’.

This led to her building a six figure business – all with 3 kids aged 4 and under (one a baby of 4 months).

In this interview Lisa shares a few highlights from the event but also gives advice on:

  • What to do when you feel tempted to compare yourself to others
  • The power of taking action
  • What to do when fear shows up
  • What she wishes she knew when she was starting out
  • The power of having a ‘posse’
  • And how to make the most of the time you have

Also note – Lisa is one of the most effective users of video that I’ve seen – she uses it to drive sales of her products, build reader engagement and grow her brand. This week just just announced a new course on how to use video that I highly recommend you check out. If you sign up before the end of October you’ll save $50.

Please note: I’m an affiliate for Lisa’s course but also make this as a genuine endorsement. Lisa’s the real deal and gave some amazing advice at our event. Check it out if you want to learn to use video better.

Further Resources on How Lisa Took Action and Built a Six Figure Business



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Lisa: I still wouldn’t have done anything if I didn’t have a deadline. Launching that free challenge, giving people a date that they could expect that something was gonna get in their inbox, made me move.

Darren: That was the voice of Lisa Corduff who is the feature of today’s podcast. Welcome to episode 162 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com. A blog, podcast, event which you’ve just heard a snippet from, job board and series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your audience, to build engagement with that audience and to monetize your blog. You can find out more about ProBlogger at problogger.com.

As I just mentioned, today, we have a special interview with Lisa Corduff from lisacorduff.com. It’s an interview that Karly Nimmo from Radcasters recorded at the ProBlogger event after Lisa had just gotten off stage after presenting at the event.

Lisa spoke at the event and was one of our most highly rated sessions. She did a session entitled Anyone Can Create An Online Product. That was a session that really resonated with a lot of our attendees. You’re going to hear why it resonated in a moment with this interview.

Let me tell you a little bit about Lisa so you’ve got the backstory of it. Lisa is a Whole Foods blogger who has been blogging and had a Facebook page for a couple of years without tremendous growth, she talks a little bit about that during this interview but she decided to ramp things up and started a free 21 day challenge which really took off with her audience. Off the back of that, she created a paid eight week program to offer to her community called Small Steps to Whole Food. This process lead her to build a six figure business while she had three kids at home all under the age of four, one of them was a baby of four months she told me when she launched that free 21 day challenge.

She had a lot going on but managed to build something quite significant. Now, she’s done I think six launches and has really built an amazing business around her. I really loved going to her session at the event but also relistening to it as well.

In this interview today, Lisa shares a few highlights from the event itself but then  goes on to give some really great advice. She talks about what to do when you feel tempted to compare yourself to other which is something that I know many of us as bloggers struggle with. She talks about the power of taking action. She talks about what to do when fear shows up. She talks about what she wishes she knew when she was starting out, the power of having a posse around you to support you and how to make the most of the time you have which I think is definitely something that Lisa has worked out well with all the things that she’s done as well as having those kids at home.

There’s a lot of goodness in today’s interview. I just want you though to be aware that if you are listening with kids around, and I know many of you do listen to this podcast in the car with your kids, there is a little bit of language throughout this episode. If you wanna shield your kids from that, you may want to listen to this when you’re alone a little bit later. It’s not too heavy but there are a few moment where you might want to cover your kid’s ears.

I’ll also mention that Lisa in her session at the event spoke a lot about how she uses video as part of her products but also promoting her products. In fact, her sales videos are some of the most effective sales videos that I’ve ever seen. I played one at the event and it was hilarious but it was so effective. I wanted to buy her product simply by watching the video.

We don’t get into too much about video in this particular interview but Lisa is launching a product this week called Keeping Video Real in which she does share how to use video in your marketing. It’s a four week course where you can learn the basics of shooting, editing, presenting and then how to use it on Facebook and how to use webinars as well. If you are interested in learning a little bit more about video, you can check out her course at problogger.com/lisa. She tells me if you sign up before the end of the month, the end of October 2016, you’ll save $50 on that.

At the end of it, I’ll pull out a few things that I most appreciated from what she said as well so tune in to the end of today’s show. Thanks for listening and let’s get into the interview with Karly and Lisa.

Karly: Hey, Karly Nimmo here from radcaters.com, launch, leverage, love your podcast. This year I made the switch from attendee to speaker at ProBlogger and I was super on it when Darren contacted me to ask if I’d be willing to sit down with some of the keynotes and have a chat. I mean, amazing That’s what I did. I pulled all my gear together, set it up in the green room and sat down with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met to have conversations about ProBlogger, what makes them tick, and what they contribute their level of success to. I’m sure you’re gonna get heaps out of this. Enjoy.

Lisa: I’m Lisa and I’ve got a Wholefoods blog. I blog at lisacorduff.com at the moment but that will be changing soon. I run an eight week online program called Small Steps to Wholefoods. I basically help real people eat more real food in the real world without all the jargon and fancy pants photoshopping of meals. I cook food for my family and I share it, that’s basically cool.

Karly: What was your session on today?

Lisa: Today, my session was on anyone can create an online product but it was kinda like, seriously if I can, anyone can create an online product. I shared my story of how I took my blog and my Facebook page which I’ve been working away on for a few years while I was having babies. I just decided I needed to make some money from it or else I was gonna have to go back to work.

When my youngest turned one, didn’t wanna do that so I just took a big fat leap, I launched a 21 day challenge for free. That went off and from that I created my eight week program and my business was off and I really wanted to share that you don’t have to be the most organized person, you don’t have to have all your children in school, you don’t have to wait until you’ve got a lot of money to invest in a business.

Karley: Or have your shit together in any way, shape, or form.

Lisa: Absolutely no shit together here. You can just still do it. I was really here to share my story and inspire other people to just take some action.

Karley: Yep, totally worked, by the way.

Lisa: Thank you.

Karley: What has been your highlight of the event so far?

Lisa: My talk, I was amazing. No, not really. It was the feedback after my talk.

Karley: You go maniac.

Lisa: You know what, I just love rocking up and meeting people, people who’ve just been names on Facebook profiles and all that kind of thing, I love the connecting.

Karley: Yeah and everyone is super friendly, right?

Lisa: Everyone is here to actually meet people. It is such an easy place to make friends.

Karley: Totally. Have you had any aha style moments while you’ve been here?

Lisa: Look, listening to Brian Fanzo and what he was talking about the power of sharing authentically, I’m like, “Yeah dude, that’s what I do.” And when he was talking about the power of video, I’m like, “Yeah dude, that’s what I do.” And I have connected with Engrown, a community, very authentically, via video and Facebook Live is the shit. I love it.

I’ve been tinkering away creating an ecourse on how to help people just get the frick over their worry about video and start doing it. That’s really given me him and his presentation just helped me realize that there was a real need for it. I’m feeling super confident in that now.

Karley: If you could’ve had one thing that people walked away from your talk with, what would be the one thing that you’d want them to kind of go away with?

Lisa: I think so many of us in the blogging space are looking around at what everyone else is doing. We are so scared, always so frustrated because things aren’t growing as fast as other people. It would be to stop looking around, to start thinking about what you’re really good at, to get to know your community and what they’re struggling with and then serve them in a way that also rewards you with income. That’s not a deadly thing to do, in fact it’s awesome and so many other good things happen from that.

It would just be really learn about your community, be in conversation with them authentically, find out what their needs are, and then work out a way to package that together in a product. Just take some freaking action.

Karley: Totally. I just wanna add that Lisa and I came to ProBlogger last year together. We both said, “Next year, we will be on stage.” And this year, we’re both on stage. I’m working on Darren’s podcast, the most amazing things happen when you take action, when you decide what you want and then you just go for it, right?

Lisa: You just have to. I was so freaking scared before that speech and it was so fun in the end. The fear shows up all the time, every single time you do something new. I can’t believe where I’ve come in two years. It was actually crazy to stand on the stage and talk about it and see it.

Karley: And rock it.

Lisa: And rock it.

Karley: What would be one tip for those who are just starting out?

Lisa: Everyone hears crickets in the beginning, everyone talks to no one for a while, but keep talking, keep showing up, keep consistent. Everyone thinks that I kinda came out of nowhere and had all this overnight success but in fact I was on Facebook a lot for a years but all of that time was just helping me craft my message, craft what was unique about me.

                    Wholefoods bloggers and food bloggers in general are damn freaking dozen. What different did I had to have to say about it? I worked that out by showing up and getting to know my community.

Karley: What do you wish you knew that you know now back then before you launched a product or even before you launched the blog?

Lisa: I wish that I knew that I was enough, that me, who wants to share, has something of value that people will vibe with. I didn’t know that. I kept on thinking all of this was a fluke. Even after the success, I kept thinking this is just gonna go away, I’m not all that. What I realized was that we are all actually enough, we’re all all that. If we can sit in it and if we can feel groovy in that, then anything is actually possible. Most of the time, it’s just us telling ourselves stories about why we can’t do things.

Karley: Totally. What do you think has contributed to your success the most so far?

Lisa: I think having my bitches. Having a posse of chicks who get it, having friends in the online business world, not trying to do exactly what I’m doing but who understand the space, has been the secret to my success. Having women around me who I can cry ugly tears and talk about the shit parts, the good parts, and who just genuinely are there cheering you on. You got their back and they’ve got yours.

Karley: Where did you really suck at at the start?

Lisa: Technology. No, I really lack, I still do. I really don’t have the attention span or desire to understand the technology. I knew enough to get started. I told everyone in the talk that my online program was run at the start on MailChimp and Vimeo. It didn’t have a membership site. There was nothing fancy about it, yet people bought it. A lot them bought it and then a lot of them bought it the second time because they liked the feeling, they liked the transformations that they were making and the way that they received it wasn’t important but that was two years ago.

                    I still get surprised that I’ve got an online business for someone who has a bit of an aversion to technology. I absolutely love it now. I can see how much it can do for me and I outsourced that bitch as soon as I could because I wasn’t gonna sit there banging my head against a laptop.

Karley: One last question for you. One of the key things, I think there’s been a couple of key themes that have been going throughout ProBlogger and one of them for me has been I see a lot of bloggers not moving ahead due to two main factors. One, there’s obviously fear and one is time. Could you let us know maybe one tip for each? One way that you could move through fear and one way that you could save yourself a bit of time.

Lisa: The fear one is interesting because I was feeling fear before my talk. It shows up all the time. It actually does never go away. I’ve launched my Small Steps to Wholefoods six times and I still get nervous every single time. I do loads and loads of webinars but I still get nervous before them. That’s cool. I’m just not going to let the fear win. It’s like what Louis Guilbert says, fear can get in the backseat but I’m gonna drive, I’m gonna do this anyway because I’m never gonna get anywhere, I’m never gonna grow and stretch if I stay stuck in the fear. My advice, just do it.

In terms of time, because I have three young kids, I did a lot in nap time, I do a lot in nap time. Working in small, little increments has been amazing but I still wouldn’t have done anything if I didn’t have a deadline. Launching that free challenge, giving people a date that they could expect that something was gonna get in their inbox, made me move. I have a bit of a background in journalism and I love short  deadlines, I actually need short deadlines. Find out the best ways that get you moving without totally overwhelming yourself.

Karley: Cool, thanks.

Lisa: Right on.

Darren: Wow, what a great interview. Thank you so much Karley and Lisa for putting aside the time to record that for us. There are few things in that interview that I particularly loved. I loved the advice that Lisa gave for those of us who are tempted to compare ourselves to others. The advice to instead of looking at what others are doing, to put that energy into learning more about your community, to be in the conversation with that community authentically and to find out what their needs are, to package up a product, something that meets those needs, to take action. I love that.

I really encourage you. If you are someone who compares yourself to other people, every time you catch yourself doing that, just focus yourself back on your community. Don’t analyze what others are doing, analyze your community and force yourself back into conversation with them to serving them as best you can. I love that.

I love what she said also about fear. I don’t know if you heard this but I jotted this down, fear shows up every time you do something new And also about the sounds of it with Lisa, every time you do something that’s not new, doing a new webinar, doing a new launch, I can really resonate with that. Fear is something that I guess we need to learn to live with, it never goes away. Nerves come every time you do something new and every time you do something big. Don’t let it win. Fear can get in the backseat, I think she said, I’m going to drive and I think that was a great one as well.

And then that advice that she said for those of us who are starting out. This is advice, again, I really resonated with. Everyone hears crickets in the beginning. Everyone talks to no one for a while, so keep talking, keep showing up, keep being consistent. It’s those years before Lisa did her launches that were really the basis of the launches. While she had some overnight success, it was built on those years of showing up, being consistent, getting to know her audience, understanding their needs. She was in a much better position.

I hope you got some encouragement out of those messages today. I certainly did. I’m feeling motivated to get into my work today right now. Again, if you are interested in checking out Lisa’s site, it’s lisacorduff.com, I’ll link to it in the show notes and also check out her course that she does have launching this week as well. If you go to problogger.com/lisa, you can save $50 on that. We are an affiliate for that but it’s a course that I will be doing myself as well so join me in doing that because I’ve got a lot to learn about video.

I hope you enjoyed today’s show. Take action, take action friends, that was the big message for me from today’s interview. I’ll look forward to chatting with you in the couple of days, time in the episode 163.

If you’re looking for something else to listen to now and you enjoyed the interview format, we’ve got a few interviews in our archives that you might wanna go back and listen to. Episode 157 was an interview that Karly also did with Brian Fanzo from iSocialFanz, just a few episodes ago now, same sort of format as today.

Back in Episode 99, I talked to Tim Paige from LeadPages and we talked a lot about landing pages and how they can be useful for bloggers. You might wanna listen to that one if landing pages is on your radar.

Back in Episode 85 was one of our most popular interviews that I did with Pat Flynn on how to get entrepreneurial ideas out of your head.

That’s probably enough for you today. You can listen to those particular episodes if you like the interview format. Otherwise, dig back into our archives over on iTunes or over on problogger.com/podcast and find something that is of interest to you. I’ll chat with you soon.

How did you go with today’s episode?

Enjoy this podcast? Sign up to our ProBloggerPLUS newsletter to get notified of all new tutorials and podcasts below.

The post PB162: How Lisa Took Action and Built a Six Figure Business appeared first on ProBlogger Podcast.

Facebook to Allow More ‘Newsworthy’ Posts That May Violate Community Standards

The good news for Facebook is that should start seeing fewer complaints about posts it decided to censor. The bad news for Facebook is that it will likely start seeing more complaints about posts it didn’t censor.

Vice president of global public policy Joel Kaplan and vp of global operations and media partnerships Justin Osofsky announced in a Newsroom post Friday that the social network will allow more “newsworthy” items that violate its community standards to remain live.

Facebook has caught heat in recent weeks for censoring posts, and while this move may ease pressure on that front, it will likely lead to more heat from users who object to posts that would have otherwise been removed.

Kaplan and Osofsky wrote:

In recent weeks, we have gotten continued feedback from our community and partners about our community standards and the kinds of images and stories permitted on Facebook. We are grateful for the input and want to share an update on our approach.

Observing global standards for our community is complex. Whether an image is newsworthy or historically significant is highly subjective. Images of nudity or violence that are acceptable in one part of the world may be offensive–or even illegal–in another. Respecting local norms and upholding global practices often come into conflict. And people often disagree about what standards should be in place to ensure a community that is both safe and open to expression.

In the weeks ahead, we’re going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest–even if they might otherwise violate our standards. We will work with our community and partners to explore exactly how to do this, both through new tools and approaches to enforcement. Our intent is to allow more images and stories without posing safety risks or showing graphic images to minors and others who do not want to see them.

As always, our goal is to channel our community’s values and to make sure our policies reflect our community’s interests. We’re looking forward to working closely with experts, publishers, journalists, photographers, law-enforcement officials and safety advocates about how to do better when it comes to the kinds of items we allow. And we’re grateful for the counsel of so many people who are helping us try to get this right.

Readers: What are your thoughts on this move by Facebook?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Facebook to Page Admins: Who Is Your Page Endorsing?

Facebook quietly began encouraging users to endorse their chosen candidates in the 2016 presidential election, and it is apparently doing the same for pages.

Some page administrators (including this writer) saw the message pictured to the right at the top of their News Feeds, reading:

Who is (page name) endorsing in the 2016 election? New! Share endorsements for the candidates (page name) supports for the election on Nov. 8.

Readers: Do you think it is a wise idea for page administrators to endorse candidates on behalf of their pages?

Content Gating: When, Whether, and How to Put Your Content Behind an Email/Form Capture – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Have you ever considered gating your content to get leads? Whether you choose to have open-access content or gate it to gather information, there are benefits and drawbacks you should be aware of. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand weighs the pros and cons of each approach and shares some tips for improving your process, regardless of whichever route you go.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about content gating.

This is something that a lot of content marketers use, particularly those who are interested in generating leads, individuals that their salespeople or sales teams or outreach folks or business development folks can reach out to specifically to sell a product or start a conversation. Many content marketers and SEOs use this type of content as a lure to essentially attract someone, who then fills in form fields to give enough information so that the sales pipeline gets filled or the leads pipeline gets filled, and then the person gets the content.

As opposed to the classic model that we’re used to in a more open content marketing and open SEO world of, “Let me give you something and then hopefully get something in return,” it’s, “You give me something and I will give you this thing in return.” This is a very, very popular tactic. You might be familiar with Moz and know that my general bias and Moz’s general bias is against content gating. We sort of have a philosophical bias against it, with the exception of, on the Moz Local side, some enterprise stuff, that that marketing team may be doing, may in the future include some gating. But generally, at Moz, we’re sort of against it.

However, I don’t want to be too biased. I recognize that it does have benefits, and I want to explain some of those benefits and drawbacks so that you can make your own choices of how to do it. Then we’re going to rock through some recommendations, some tactical tips that I’ve got for you around how you can improve how you do it, no matter whether you are doing open content or full content gating.

Benefits of gating content

The two. This is the gated idea. So you get this free report on the state of artificial intelligence in 2016. But first, before you get that report, you fill in all these fields: name, email, role, company website, Twitter, LinkedIn, what is your budget for AI in 2017 and you fill in a number. I’m not kidding here. Many of these reports require these and many other fields to be filled in. I have filled in personally several that are intense in order to get a report back. So it’s even worked on me at times.

The opposite of that, of course, would be the report is completely available. You get to the webpage, and it’s just here’s the state of AI, the different sections, and you get your graphs and your charts, and all your data is right in there. Fantastic, completely free access. You’ve had to give nothing, just visit the website.

The benefits of gating are you actually get:

  • More information about who specifically accessed the report. Granted, some of this information could be faked. There are people who work around that by verifying and validating at least the email address or those kinds of things.
  • Those who expend the energy to invest in the report may view the data or the report itself as more valuable, more useful, more trustworthy, to carry generally greater value. This is sort of an element of human psychology, where we value things that we’ve had to work harder to get.
  • Sales outreach to the folks who did access it may be much easier and much more effective because you obviously have a lot of information about those people, versus if you collected only an email or no information at all, in which case would be close to impossible.

Drawbacks of gating content

Let’s walk through the drawbacks of gating, some things that you can’t do:

  • Smaller audience potential. It is much harder to get this in front of tons of people. Maybe not this page specifically, but certainly it’s hard to get amplification of this, and it’s very hard to get an audience, get many, many people to fill out all those form fields.
  • Harder to earn links and amplification. People generally do not link to content like this. By the way, the people who do link to and socially amplify stuff like this usually do it with the actual file. So what they’ll do is they’ll look for State of AI 2016, filetype:pdf, site:yourdomain.com, and then they’ll find the file behind whatever you’ve got. I know there are some ways to gate that even such that no one can access it, but it’s a real pain.
  • It also is true that some folks this leaves a very bad taste in their mouth. They have a negative brand perception around it. Now negative brand perception could be around having to fill this out. It could be around whether the content was worth it after they filled this out. It could be about the outreach that happens to them after they filled this out and their interest in getting this data was not to start a sales conversation. You also lose a bunch of your SEO benefits, because you don’t get the links, you don’t get the engagement. If you do rank for this, it tends to be the case that your bounce rate is very high, much higher than other people who might rank for things like the state of AI 2016. So you just struggle.

Benefits of open access

What are the benefits and drawbacks of open access? Well, benefits, pretty obvious:

  • Greater ability to drive traffic from all channels, of course — social, search, word of mouth, email, whatever it is. You can drive a lot more people here.
  • There’s a larger future audience for retargeting and remarketing. So the people who do reach the report itself in here, you certainly have an opportunity. You could retarget and remarket to them. You could also reach out to them directly. Maybe you could retarget and remarket to people who’ve reached this page but didn’t fill in any information. But these folks here are a much greater audience potential for those retargeting and remarketing efforts. Larry Kim from WordStream has shown some awesome examples. Marty Weintraub from Aimclear also has shown some awesome examples of how you can do that retargeting and remarketing to folks who’ve reached content.
  • SEO benefits via links that point to these pages, via engagement metrics, via their ranking ability, etc. etc. You’re going to do much better with this. We do much better with the Beginner’s Guide to SEO on Moz than we would if it were gated and you had to give us your information first, of course.

Overall, if what you are trying to achieve is, rather than leads, simply to get your message to the greatest number of people, this is a far, far better effort. This is likely to reach a much bigger audience, and that message will therefore reach that much larger audience.

Drawbacks of open access

There are some drawbacks for this open access model. It’s not without them.

  • It might be hard or even totally impossible to convert many or most of the visits that come to open access content into leads or potential leads. It’s just the case that those people are going to consume that content, but they may never give you information that will allow you to follow up or reach out to them.
  • Information about the most valuable and important visitors, the ones who would have filled this thing out and would have been great leads is lost forever when you open up the content. You just can’t capture those folks. You’re not going to get their information.

So these two are what drive many folks up to this model and certainly the benefits of the gated content model as well.

Recommendations

So, my recommendations. It’s a fairly simple equation. I urge you to think about this equation from as broad a strategic perspective and then a tactical accomplishment perspective as you possibly can.

1. If audience size, reach, and future marketing benefits are greater than detailed leads as a metric or as a value, then you should go open access. If the reverse is true, if detailed leads are more valuable to you than the audience size, the potential reach, the amplification and link benefits, and all the future marketing benefits that come from those things, the ranking benefits and SEO benefits, if that’s the case, then you should go with a gated model. You get lots of people at an open access model. You get one person, but you know all their information in a gated content model.

2. It is not the case that this has to be completely either/or. There are modified ways to do both of these tactics in combination and concert. In fact, that can be potentially quite advantageous.

So a semi-gated model is something we’ve seen a few content marketers and companies start to do, where they have a part of the report or some of the most interesting aspects of the report or several of the graphics or an embedded SlideShare or whatever it is, and then you can get more of the report by filling in more items. So they’re sharing some stuff, which can potentially attract engagement and links and more amplification, and use in all sorts of places and press, and blog posts and all that kind of stuff. But then they also get the benefit of some people filling out whatever form information is critical in order to get more of that data if they’re very interested. I like this tease model a lot. I think that can work really, really well, especially if you are giving enough to prove your value and worth, and to earn those engagement and links, before you ask for a lot more.

You can go the other way and go a completely open model but with add-ons. So, for example, in this, here’s the full report on AI. If you would like more information, we conducted a survey with AI practitioners or companies utilizing AI. If you’d like the results of that survey, you can get that, and that’s in the sidebar or as a little notification in the report, a call to action. So that’s full report, but if you want this other thing that maybe is useful to some of the folks who best fit the interested in this data and also potentially interested in our product or service, or whatever we’re trying to get leads for, then you can optionally put your information in.

I like both of these. They sort of straddle that line.

3. No matter which one or which modified version you do, you should try and optimize the outcomes. That means in an open content model:

  • Don’t ignore the fact that you can still do retargeting to all the people who visited this open content and get them back to your website, on to potentially a very relevant offer that has a high conversion rate and where you can do CRO testing and those kinds of things. That is completely reasonable and something that many, many folks do, Moz included. We do a lot of remarketing around the web.
  • You can drive low-cost, paid traffic to the content that gets the most shares in order to bump it up and earn more amplification, earn more traffic to it, which then gives you a broader audience to retarget to or a broader audience to put your CTA in front of.
  • If you are going to go completely gated, a lot of these form fields, you can infer or use software to get and therefore get a higher conversion rate. So for example, I’m asking for name, email, role, company, website, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In fact, I could ask exclusively for LinkedIn and email and get every single one of those from just those two fields. I could even kill email and ask them to sign in with LinkedIn and then request the email permission after or as part of that request. So there are options here. You can also ask for name and email, and then use a software service like FullContact’s API and get all of the data around the company, website, role and title, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc., etc. that are associated with that name or in that email address. So then you don’t have to ask for so much information.
  • You can try putting your teaser content in multiple channels and platforms to maximize its exposure so that you drive more people to this get more. If you’re worried that hey this teaser won’t reach enough people to be able to get more of those folks here, you can amplify that through putting it on SlideShare or republishing on places like Medium or submitting the content in guest contributions to other websites in legit ways that have overlapped audiences and share your information that you know is going to resonate and will make them want more. Now you get more traffic back to these pages, and now I can convert more of those folks to the get more system.

So content gating, not the end of the world, not the worst thing in the world. I personally dislike a lot of things about it, but it does have its uses. I think if you’re smart, if you play around with some of these tactical tips, you can get some great value from it.

I look forward to your ideas, suggestions, and experiences with content gating, and we’ll see you next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Why Your Unique Value Proposition Isn’t as Important as You Think It Is (and What Matters More)

A hot prospect has demoed your software or product, and now you’ve got Sales talking with the decision-makers about an enterprise solution that will be your biggest yet. You find out they’ve narrowed down their decision to you and two of your competitors. This should be a slam dunk—you just spent the last three months doing market research and sharpening your Unique Value Proposition (UVP), and you know your team now clearly communicates the unique value you provide.

But the sales process drags out weeks and months. . . and the prospect is asking for discounts and extra customization at no additional charge. You’re crunching the numbers, trying to figure out how to keep the deal alive and asking yourself why you’re stuck competing on price again. And then you find out the prospect chose a competitor.

What went wrong? Your UVP was strong. Your sales team was at the top of their game. What happened?

As it turns out, UVP isn’t as important as we think it is. CEB research surveyed 3,000 B2B buyers across 36 brands and 7 industries and revealed that only 14% of buyers perceive enough meaningful difference between brands’ business value to be willing to pay extra for that difference. Unless you’re selling something truly revolutionary—solving a problem that has not yet been solved in any way, shape, or form—your UVP is pretty much the same as your best competitors’ UVPs. Although there are subtle differences, your prospects are saying they’re not willing to pay for them. So you end up competing on price.

difference-between-supplies-enough-to-payOnly 14% of buyers saw enough difference between suppliers to be willing to pay a higher price for it. (Image Source)

What’s the solution? It’s not that UVP doesn’t matter at all. B2B buyers demand ROI—you have to deliver at least as much business value as your competitors do, in order to get into the consideration set. So all the work you put into developing your UVP isn’t wasted.

Personal Value Beats Business Value

But while nearly all B2B companies focus on business value and treat B2B buying as a rational decision process, the reality is that people are making these buying decisions—people who have emotions and who are concerned about things like getting a promotion, being respected by their peers, and not making mistakes. They fear risk. They want admiration. They are driven by the desire to be successful.

According to CEB’s research, over 90% of the B2B buyers surveyed would either put off the purchase indefinitely or would buy from the lowest-price supplier in their consideration set. If you’re going to consistently win deals profitably, you need to address personal value at least as much as you address business value.

buyers-who-see-personal-value-versus-those-that-dontBuyers were much more likely to purchase from the supplier that demonstrated personal value. (Image Source)

There are two sides to personal value—a positive and a negative. If you tackle both in your marketing and sales materials, you’ll build a strong case that will motivate buyers. Let’s look at each of these in detail.

Address Personal Benefits

The positive side of the personal value coin is personal benefits—how your product or service benefits your prospects personally. While every individual will have his or her own goals and desires, you’ll want to identify two or three that are shared by most of your prospects so you can focus on these in your marketing. (If you break out different market segments or personas and market separately to each, you have the freedom to get more specific with the personal benefits you highlight.)

To identify the personal benefits that will resonate with your prospects, you’ll need to do a bit of research. The easiest way to learn this info is to set up brief phone interviews with current clients or prospects who fit your ideal client profile. Here are a few questions you can ask that will give you insight.

  • What is important to you as a [title or role]?
  • What are you currently working toward? (A promotion? A role change? You’re looking for what motivates them.)
  • What are your one-year goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in two years?

Once you’ve completed your interviews, look over the words and phrases that your interviewees used to describe what matters to them. What words and phrases were used the most? These are the ones that you’ll want to incorporate into your messaging to ensure prospects fully understand and instinctively react to what you’re saying.

Address Personal Risk

The negative side of the personal value coin is personal risk. Fear is one of the strongest forces that prevent people from taking action—even action they logically know they need to take. If you want prospects to move forward in the buying journey, you’re going to have to address their fears.

Nearly every B2B buyer, no matter what his or her job role, has the following fears.

  • Potential loss of time. Would-be buyers are busy and almost always have more on their to-do lists than they can possibly get done. They worry that implementing your solution will take up too much of their valuable time.
  • Potential loss of respect. To get the deal agreed upon, buyers have to champion your solution to their teams. They worry that if your solution doesn’t deliver as promised, or if it’s a nightmare to implement, they’ll lose the support of coworkers and superiors.
  • Potential loss of job. If the performance of your product or service is bad enough and causes a large loss of money or potential revenue, a buyer could lose his or her job over the purchase. This is a fear that can easily and completely derail a purchase.

If you want to close the deal, you’ll need to address each of these fears in your bottom-of-the-funnel marketing content or sales materials.

Personal value is a powerful driver of purchase decisions.

It’s important to note that “showing” is more effective than “telling” prospects that they don’t need to worry about these potential hazards. Besides that fact that it would be weird, no one would believe you if you simply stated, “And there’s no reason to fear losing your job if you buy from us—you won’t!”

Use testimonials and case studies to demonstrate the results you’ve achieved for other companies similar to theirs. Point out how quickly or easily the implementation went and the specific ROI you delivered. Social proof (especially if you’ve got testimonials or case studies from companies well-known in their industry) will alleviate their fears better than anything else.

Dig into the Pain of Non-action

The best way to overcome that last bit of doubt remaining after you’ve addressed potential fears is to dig into the pain that will result from not moving forward with the purchase.

Find out what the buyer will lose if he or she puts off the decision, and quantify it. How much revenue is he or she sacrificing? How much time is he or she wasting?

Then compare the loss resulting from inaction to any remaining potential risk. You need to show the buyer that the reward greatly outweighs any potential risk. This is the final kick-in-the-pants that buyers need to make the purchase.

The best time to point out the pain of non-action is in your proposal. After you’ve clearly communicated business benefits and personal benefits, and after you’ve assuaged their fears, make sure they feel how much the status quo hurts—and how that pain will just continue to get worse the longer they stay there.

Never Forget You’re Selling to People

The companies that win will be the companies that thoroughly understand their prospects and clearly communicate personal value as well as business value. Never lose sight of the fact that, even as a B2B company, you’re selling to people. Show off that shiny UVP, but don’t stop the conversation at business value. And you’ll find that price is no longer holding you back from those highly-coveted enterprise deals.

About the Author: Laura MacPherson is a freelance writer who integrates persuasion psychology and research into copywriting and content for B2B companies. Follow her (or connect) on LinkedIn for an unlimited supply of marketing tips and tricks.

How to Become an Innovative Growth Hacker in One Month

growth hacking

So, you’ve got an amazing idea for a new business. If you build it and market it the traditional way, they will come, right?

Not anymore.

It doesn’t matter what your niche is. There are bigger competitors in it, and traditional marketing has gotten them far. As for your business coming in and taking over? Good luck with that.

I tried that once. I created a product with my co-founder, Hiten Shah. It was pretty amazing.

But then we realized something disturbing.

We were competing against Google.

Ha-ha.

Google? You don’t compete with Google. Instead, you get squashed, obliterated, bought out, or ignored.

We had to do something different. And that “something different” turned out to be growth hacking, and that’s when I first developed my fascination with the field.

We still compete with Google, sort of, but our product is highly differentiated, incredibly value-added, and distinct in every way. (Business is booming, by the way.)

Let’s face it: The old way of doing things works reliably only for large, established businesses—companies that have huge customer bases and vast marketing budgets.

Enter growth hacking. Since the term was coined by Sean Ellis in 2010, the concept has been shown to deliver amazing results time and time again. If your business is floundering despite supposedly tried-and-true techniques, it may be time to get on board.

Speaking of time, though, you may not have much of it. Don’t worry. Right here, you’ll learn everything you need to know to become an innovative growth hacker in a single month. 

Download this cheat sheet to know how to become an innovative growth hacker in one month.

What is growth hacking, anyway?

Perhaps I’ve gotten ahead of myself a little. You can’t embrace growth hacking without knowing what it is.

At its essence, growth hacking is a method of quick product development and experimentation across marketing platforms. It aims to pinpoint the most efficient and effective ways to grow a company.

An affordable alternative to traditional marketing, growth hacking involves quickly testing and tweaking various marketing tactics to increase conversions while reducing the cost of customer acquisition.

Unlike with traditional product development, in which a product is fully formed before being tested, user testing begins during the earliest stages in growth hacking, and ideas are tested every step of the way.

One helpful way of thinking of growth hacking is with three overlapping circles. Marketing, experimentation, and automation or development of some sort all come together in a nexus of growth hacking.

image04

Why engage in growth hacking?

Growth hacking is a modern alternative to traditional marketing, which has become increasingly ineffective for startups and small companies in the fast-paced digital era.

A hacker is more concerned with achieving an end than following a prescribed course of action and will cut corners to do so. Likewise, growth hackers’ goals are similar to those of traditional marketers—but achieved in innovative ways.

You can have different types of growth hackers. For example, one popular iteration of growth hackers is the content hacker, who looks like this:

image03

So, why engage in growth hacking? You do it when you need to hit the ground running with a new product or concept but can’t afford to rely on traditional marketing efforts.

For example, with traditional marketing, you wait until a product is fully developed before subjecting it to user testing. This, of course, requires you to sink a ton of time and money into something that users may hate. Similarly, you may develop a traditional marketing strategy and follow it to a T only to discover that it falls flat.

With growth hacking, products are tested at every stage of development. Marketing techniques are continually tested and adjusted too.

Who benefits from growth hacking?

Companies that benefit the most from growth hacking are ones that are willing to put intense effort and focus into marketing and launching a product in exchange for much faster growth.

Like many startups and small businesses, yours may not be able to afford the time and money it takes to do things the traditional way. By becoming an innovative growth hacker, you begin marketing and testing right off the bat and continue all the way through product launch and beyond.

How does growth hacking work?

The growth hacking process is actually pretty simple to understand. Once you have a strong grasp of how it works, you can dive right in.

That’s great news for you if you have an amazing idea for a new product and are eager to see how the market responds. By learning how to become an innovative growth hacker, you can watch your ideas either blossom or fall flat more quickly. And that allows you to move on to the next thing right away if need be.

Although it varies a great deal by company and circumstances, growth hacking usually unfolds as follows:

1. Establish mini goals

As a business owner, you probably already have a goal in mind for launching your new product. For example, perhaps you would like to see its website attract more than 250,000 visitors in a single month.

Attempting to achieve that goal in and of itself is daunting. Instead, break things down into mini goals to stay on track and to continually move toward reaching your ultimate goal. For instance, set a goal to attract at least 10,000 visitors to your website in a week.

2. Start analyzing from square one

Modern analytics provide information in almost real time, so there’s no need to wait around to see how various techniques are faring. Since your marketing strategy will likely kick off with online marketing, set up an effective system for analyzing traffic to your site and landing pages immediately.

Continually tracking the effectiveness of your various marketing efforts helps because you can address problems right away. When you try something and it doesn’t work, you can switch tactics virtually midstream.

When setting up your analytics, make sure to be tracking the right metrics. Whether you use Google Analytics or another app, set up advanced segments and goals. Keep an eye on KPIs like time on page and referral URLs. Don’t forget to track mobile usage too.

3. Optimize your sales funnel

Be ready to pounce at every step of the sales funnel to keep prospects and customers moving right along.

For the acquisition stage, focus on content marketing. Amass a large library of high-quality content as soon as possible. Offer free webinars and e-books in exchange for email signup. Create and share infographics regarding trending topics in your niche, and maintain a PPC campaign from square one—even if your budget is small.

4. Act quickly

Growth hackers think quickly on their feet, which is why they are so successful at growing huge customer bases in short periods of time.

As soon as it’s clear you’re barking up the wrong tree with a marketing technique or product feature, scrap it. Better still, have backup plans ready to go so that you can seamlessly introduce them.

At the same time, make the most of techniques and features that do work. Leverage them for everything they’re worth. For example, if you discover Twitter is where you’re most likely to find your target demographic, intensify your efforts there.

Growth hackers aren’t wishy-washy. They are decisive. Don’t second-guess yourself if you need to abort what you initially thought would be an amazing idea.

5. Experiment and tweak

For you as a growth hacker, A/B testing is one of your best friends. Use it extensively while designing websites, landing pages, and other aspects of your campaign to quickly zero in on features that deliver the best ROI.

The simple act of adjusting where a call to action is placed can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of a landing page. The wording you use is highly influential too, especially when it comes to headlines.

As you test what resonates with your target audience, you will also learn more about it. This information will further enhance your ability to grow your business.

Tips for being an effective growth hacker

Now that you know the basics of growth hacking, you’re probably ready to give it a go. Still, knowing which steps to take is merely the first step. True success lies in mastering subtler skills.

As you go about your growth hacking, keep the following seven tips in mind. When they become like second nature to you, you’ll really start seeing results from your efforts.

1. Listen and suggest

Thanks to the Internet and social media, feedback about anything that you offer is readily available. You don’t even have to create an official poll or survey.

Growth hackers know this and embrace it by being actively involved in online conversations regarding their company, products, industry, and niche.

Odds are that users will be commenting about things that matter to you and your business. By being there to hear it, you can implement users’ best suggestions to further enhance growth.

At the same time, offer suggestions to visitors to your site and elsewhere online to keep them engaged in your brand. For example, if someone buys or expresses interest in one product, suggest another one they may like.

2. Be accessible

Don’t assume your products will be used only one way or that those who want them will be found only in one place.

Instead, employ a multi-pronged approach by considering a variety of possibilities. In its infancy, Spotify offered streaming music across a number of different devices and platforms. In a wise move, Spotify also gave different ways for users to enjoy music.

image02

Not surprisingly, the app has had a very broad appeal and has been a massive success.

3. Use scalable techniques

Innovative growth hackers don’t focus solely on the here and now. They’re visionaries, so they always keep an eye on the future. Instead of putting all their eggs in one basket by implementing a massive, expensive technique, they start small and see how things go.

At the same time, they leave plenty of room for growth. After all, that’s what the process is all about. Facebook did this well early on by not sinking too many resources into any one particular thing. Instead, the company started small with new concepts and techniques, designing them to be scalable so that they could grow right along with the company.

4. Deliver content quickly

Rapid growth is likelier to happen when prospects receive content at the right place and time. In other words, you must be ready to pounce with the perfect content at any given moment.

You only need to look to Upworthy to see this done properly, at least when it comes to getting your point across quickly.

image01

Engaging headlines play a huge role in this, so take the time to craft incredible ones. Include plenty of visual elements to pique users’ interest.

Design your content to be easy to share. Viral marketing is a low-cost, low-risk venture you can integrate into your current efforts.

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Don’t be afraid to branch out in different directions. Just make sure your content is provided at the right time and to the right people.

5. Roll with the punches

Just when it appears a new product has finally “made it,” its target demographic changes course, and interest peters out. Unfortunately, such is the way of the world. Change is the only constant, and as a growth hacker, you have to be able to roll with the punches.

Instead of fearing change, embrace it. Always be on the lookout for the next big thing in your niche, and be ready to bring it to your customers. Even if you design an incredible product, it won’t be perceived that way forever.

6. Nurture prospects effectively

In the mad dash to grow a business, it’s easy to let viable prospects slip through the cracks. To be an effective growth hacker, you must have a strategy in place for nurturing leads to increase the odds of conversion.

First, you must know what your ideal customer wants in the first place. Once you do, figuring out how to appeal to them is somewhat intuitive. However, the method of doing so will vary depending on the prospect.

With that in mind, have plenty of tools in your arsenal. Ensure your content library is stocked with pieces that can be used to guide prospects along the path to conversion.

7. Be as niche as possible

The most successful growth hackers are thought leaders within their industries. It’s almost always the case because they have focused on a specific niche and have become true experts.

Learn everything you possibly can about your niche. Use that knowledge to create compelling blogs, guest blogs, e-books, white papers, and other pieces of content. Conduct webinars, engage in email marketing, and be highly active on social media.

Eventually, you might even consider establishing a special forum for “insiders.” When they opt in, give them a login so that they can be among the first to learn about emerging trends in your industry.

Conclusion

Growth hacking has become so popular that businesses hire professional growth hackers. Luckily, you don’t have to outsource this particular task. Instead, become a growth hacker yourself.

By taking a more innovative, outside-the-box approach to growing your small business or startup, you’re more likely to get where you’d like to be in a timely manner. So, what are you waiting for?

How will becoming a growth hacker benefit your company?